A sense of dread gradually creeps into my mind,
awakening the fear I have tried to bury deep down in my soul,
forcing me to face the challenge I am not prepared to witness,
urging me to take a leap of faith I am not sure of surviving,
Why does it feel like no matter what I do, it’s never enough?
Why does it feel like I am trapped within this world?
Why am I scared of failure?
Why have I lost the ability to joyfully smile and face life?
Why do I hide my real desires frightened of scorn and ridicule?
Why am I scared of what the world might think of me?
I am like an empty canvass
fearful of being ripped and tainted by the extreme galore of colors?
How will I be anything but an empty canvass if this fear fails to diminish from my life?
I often wonder what goes on peoples’ minds when they ask me “Why are you still single?” , “Have you never dated?”, “All women your age are either dating or married”, “When are you planning on settling down?”, “Don’t you know how to attract a man to your side?”. This is the most widely asked question in my life. Not only my family, friends but also acquaintances or any other people I come across. If I had to be paid a dollar for every time I have been asked that question, I believe I would be a billionaire by now.
At times I answer politely making them understand that a woman’s sole purpose in life is not to just get married and have kids. Not every woman is inclined to chop onions and potatoes in the kitchen. Or I simply respond “I am still waiting for my Mr. Right.” But at other times I simply lose my temper and say “I am happy just the way I am. I don’t need a man to run my life. I can take care of myself.”
It’s not that I don’t want to be in a relationship or love someone. It’s just that I have been through relationships so often that it has become a norm for me to get hurt or heart broken, to get bruised beyond repair and to feel suffocated with terror and despair. The amount of time that I dedicate towards the relationship is soon seen as tremendously worthless and could never be turned back. I have devoted hours to helping my partners succeed, providing comfort, shelter, companionship that I have lost myself completely. In giving priority to my so called better half I have often been taken for granted that I hardly gave priority to my needs and desires.
I have been driven to extreme lengths where I held on to beliefs that in reality never make sense. He shouts at me because he is frustrated and stressed out. He is so busy he doesn’t have a second to spare for me. He is trying to change me for my own good. He loves me so much that’s why he tries to teach me the right way to behave with people. He treats me as an equal that’s why he has no hesitation in asking me to pay the bill or ask for money to party. He wants to improve my standard of living that is why he wants me to adapt his way of living. All these remarks have been believed by me with the utmost faith only to realize he loved me not for what I am but for what he could get from me physically and socially. He wanted to change me not because he wanted me to experience a life different from the one I was used to but because I could bear the burden of shouldering his responsibilities as well as mine. He wanted me to remain grateful for all my life for making me see the wealthier side of life.
I have done everything possible under the sun to make relationships work. I have wasted hours watching the seconds tick by hoping to get a call or message from them. I have canceled my appointments to spend time with them only to have them cancel at the last moment. I have shed tears to hide my pain and depression at having to do things I never enjoyed in the first place. I have worked hard to lavish my income on things I was happy to have my beloved experience or possess.
I jumped from one relationship to the next fearful of missing out on having a relationship. I wanted to feel what it means to be a girlfriend or sweetheart so bad I agreed to date and hang out in a jiffy, with any guy that first approached me. I was so touched and blinded by emotions and social norms that I wanted to belong to a gang and party hard. I wanted to let the whole world know I had a boyfriend or lover so much that I hid all the suffering and cracks in my relationships with a perfect smile and fake happiness.
I lied that I was receiving affection and all the love I required from my partners. I purchased gifts for myself and lied that it was a gift from my man. I squandered money without a care just to keep the relationship flowing. I agreed to perform acts that I was not comfortable with just to hold on to someone. I knew I was being lied to or taken for a fool but I gave them the benefit of the doubt. Even after knowing the whole truth I still held fast to the belief that he would come back and that my love as strong enough to win him back.
Amidst all this drama I forgot about myself completely. It was like the real me never existed. It took time and a lot of heartaches later that it dawned on me I was scared of loneliness. I was so afraid of not belonging somewhere or dying alone that I accepted the creepiest bit of affection just to not sleep alone or to prove that I was capable of being loved. I was reluctant to let go because my sense of worth was related to things I had no control over or to persons other than myself. I wanted to achieve and possess things that only left me devoid of emotions since I didn’t want them in the first place. So many times I ignored my gut feeling that this was not working or that I should probably let go.
Now I know better. I am stronger and better able to understand myself. Before I love someone else I need to love and accept myself. Before I point out another person’s shortcomings, I need to accept my faults, mistakes, and flaws. I need to be enough for myself. I should do the things I want to do not because someone asked me to or wants me to do but I need to do it for myself. I need to be at peace with myself before I set out to seek tranquility somewhere else.
Before I look for another relationship or seek marriage, I need to accomplish my goals and dreams. I need to be emotionally, mentally and spiritually ready for this new change. I need to re-discover myself, my interests and desires.
I need to educate myself more and fulfill my goal of achieving my Masters. I need to travel and see the places I have always wanted to see. I have to be strong enough to be able to support another person. I need to learn a new language or make new friends. I need to be comfortable with myself and accept myself completely before I set out to accept someone else. I need to tread carefully so I can awaken my inner spirit and redesign a new me.
Until then I am a single woman on the road to self discovery.
I am not perfect and so many times I will fall back and cry to have a partner. I will feel sad when I see my friends happily married or with kids. I will regard this as rubbish but I will always hold true to the fact that I need to love myself before I love someone else. I will always come back to this point until I am sure of myself and my goals. And if it never happens I will have my family and true friends for companionship. I will adopt a child and dedicate my life to that child. I do not need to be married or in a relationship to survive. I just need true love and it doesn’t necessarily have to relate to a man.
I am a single woman and proud to be one.
Every time I come across a couple holding hands or gazing into each other eyes’ oblivious of the fact that someone is observing them
Every instant that I happen to see a man eagerly wait for his woman at the gate,
Every time I am forced to attend a wedding or observe my friends falling in love, cuddling next to each other or sweet texting each other,
I feel a pang of jealousy erupt within my soul,
I feel a twinge of pain in my heart,
I realize a deep sense of loneliness lingers within my life and I constantly feel it nagging my thoughts,
I feel this void in my life which may never be fulfilled,
How often have I been in a one-sided relationship where I was the only one devoted and committed to making our relationship work?
How often have I been taken for a fool, waiting for a text or call, waiting for a hug or kiss when it was freely been given to another woman?
How many times have I been told, “You are never enough”
“You are too fat”
“You are too short”
“You are doing this wrong and that wrong”
How many times have I shed tears over heart breaks and humiliating remarks driving my sense of worth at the lowest?
How many times have my achievements been seen as mediocre and worthless when I have worked immensely hard to be where I am?
How many times have I been discarded like a filthy piece of trash for my beautiful friends?
How often have I been compared to my friends, utterly shattering my spirit and self-respect?
How often have I been ridiculed for my opinions and thoughts?
How many times have I been scared of introducing my boyfriend to my friends, fearful of having been dumped?
How many times do I hear my friends complain of not receiving any text or call from their boyfriends? The fights and arguments? The sweet makeup kiss?
I yearn to feel all this. How unfortunate that I never experienced true love nor received even a sincere bit of affection from any of my relationships?
I console myself with the belief that I am better off alone
I smile hoping my heart understands that I no longer believe in a happily ever after or dwell in the hope that there is someone for me
I have had various shades of relationship cocktails and the only worthy flavor I prefer is my relationship with myself.
What does a human being need to survive in this world? Food? Clothes? Shelter? Others would say we need love, care, affection, friendship or family. Everyone will have their own opinion but the consensus still remains that the basic needs every person needs to ensure survival is food, clothes, and shelter.
A large number of people receive these needs and take it for granted not realizing there are so many unfortunate individuals out there who have no access or means to get these things. On a larger scale, we have refugees, victims of war or political unrest, victims of natural hazards like floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes. On another scale, we have orphans, street children, beggars.
Every morning on my way to work I pass these few young men sleeping across the trench on the pavement. Sometimes I pass by without any thought minding my business. At other times I think how I would fare if I were in their position. Not having shelter to shield themselves from the cold or rain, Not having a home where I could sit and watch television or read a book, Not having a place I could call my own.Not having a bed to sleep on.
Yet they continue to survive. They pick up discarded boxes and tear them to make a sort of sheet on which they could sleep. They have stones and logs for pillows. The ground is their daily bedroom. How fortunate are we that we have a home, clean bed sheets and a room to spend the night.
They sit under the trees or cover themselves with broken buckets to shield themselves from rain. They cover themselves with used bags of cement or leaves.
They earn a living by washing or cleaning cars as the traffic lights force the drivers to wait in long queues for more than an hour. Everyone has their own specific set of cars to look for. In case someone else approaches a car not belonging to their “client list” chaos and fights usually follow.
Sometimes they are such a nuisance. They tease and harass women or young girls passing by hoping to get a reaction out of them. I have many a time been told how beautiful I am or how nice it would be if they could lay their hands on me (which is quite scary and something they are very much capable of doing). Sometimes they wait for unwary passengers or tourists and rob them of their belongings. Sometimes they just cause unnecessary mayhem by fighting and beating up each other with stones and bricks or whatever they can get their hands on.
The few coins they get for washing cars is usually spent on food or cigarettes and sometimes drugs. Some use the money for luring girls for their pleasure. It amazes me that these individuals hardly have enough to sustain themselves yet they have more than two or three children of their own who are forced to beg on the streets or turn into hardened criminals and prostitution to get a single meal for the day. I understand they are human beings just like I am, they have needs and desires just like I do, but why do you have to resort to these behaviors? Why force your own daughter or wife to live a life you are living? Why not go to school? Primary education is free. Why not avoid causing chaos in the streets?
I was blessed to have an education, a safe home,and a good job. I do not have to beg for money or resort to harmful and illegal activities to get a few slices of bread. yet how many of us realize how privileged we are? We often look at these youth as a menace to society? As unneeded vermins? As criminals? Does not having a life we are accustomed to make them less of a human? Does not have a stable upbringing make them less deserving of life? Does our attitude towards them help to find a solution to these issues?
They are seen wearing rags and filthy clothes, using shoe strings as belts. Most of their clothes are hardly fit to be used as dressing attires. Sometimes they pick throw aways from garbage cans and alter them to their liking. Yet we have wardrobes full of dresses we will never wear and still continue adding up to our collection.
They have nothing yet they make the most of everything. We have everything yet we feel we have nothing? We have homes, beds, chairs, tv and music systems, phones, delicious cuisines and so many things we hardly give any thought to how lucky we are.
They have a blanket of stars and the dark sky above their heads. They have the grasses and ground to lay for the night. They have trees for houses and the passersby for entertainment. They have rags to wear. They have broken heels or plastic bags for slippers.
All they are proud of possessing is a blanket of shiny stars which can never be snatched or stolen and for which no claim can ever be laid.
A lot of people would have childhood memories full of happiness,joy, great adventures, and lots of family gatherings. Even more people would remember the craziest pranks and stunts we pulled to torment the neighbor who didn’t like us or let us play in the garden, the cookies we stole from the kitchen when mum wasn’t looking our side and how we pulled chairs before a person could sit so they would fall and everyone would laugh merrily.
Some memories will forever be hatched into our minds throughout our lives and no matter where we are or what we do, we always relive them again and again. Some dark memories creep into our souls and minds, depriving us of peace and inner calm, at times when we least expect, unleashing enormous emotions of hatred, loathing, and vengeance, clouding our ability to focus on the present and more peaceful times.
I grew up in very difficult circumstances and often wished I could change my life or have a fairy godmother who would transport me into a different land altogether. My only salvation was having my Dad beside me. His guidance and comfort helped me overcome all the negativity and fight with determination to accomplish my goals and achieve my dreams. I still remember his words each time I lost hope – “When the going gets tough, we don’t quit, we get tougher.”
My dad was not able to secure a permanent job when I was a growing child. He found plumbing, fixing and fitting gigs here and there to make ends meet. My mother had to work more than two jobs to keep the family going and also have to cook for us once she was home. My dad would meet several people for jobs but somehow things never went our way. We were the target for all our relatives who supported us financially.
My mum and dad loved each other dearly and never let any kind of ego or hardship come between their love for each other. My dad would do all the housework, attempt to cook something for everyone to eat and make sure mum had everything she needed when she came home.
Our relatives did not just support us financially but also attempted to control every aspect of our life. They did not leave a stone unturned to make us feel like we owed them everything and had to be grateful to them all our lives. In return for their support, we had to do everything they asked us to at any time of the day and in any way they wanted.
I woke up each day listening to the voices criticizing and ridiculing my dad, insulting and humiliating him, treating him like he was their pet dog who had to fetch the ball they threw to entertain themselves. He had to fix their houses when the bathroom was clogged, carry their shopping or grocery bags, clean their houses and obey every command they uttered. For all his hard work, he would receive a few pennies or just be given a meal and was told to be thankful for what they did for him.
They had cars but they would not carry their pizza or gravy bowls in their cars with the excuse that their brand new car would get stained if a drop of gravy would spill from the bowl. My dad would carry bowls and bowls of food every night to their homes waiting for them to come back from their long drives so he could place their meal on the table. If he got tired waiting for them and left they would shout at him telling him he would not lose anything if he waited for a few more minutes.
If they forgot to buy bread for their morning breakfast, my dad would have to start looking for bread late at night to feed their bellies. If he sat down to eat, they would tell him he ate too much or he should make sure he did not finish the whole meal since my uncles and aunts had not yet eaten.
Whenever we had visitors at home, they would complain how irresponsible and incapable dad was. They would tell them how generous and kind they were helping us out and supporting us financially. We had a home because they paid the rent for us. We had clothes because they gave us their hand me downs. We had food because they ensured we had their leftovers to eat.
We cleaned up after they had eaten. We wore what they wouldn’t be seen dead wearing yet we had to be grateful to them. I do not deny they helped us but at what cost? We did not just receive charity from them, we worked hard to ensure they were happy and we did everything at their pleasure. It was like they owned us and we were their personal slaves.
Every time I saw mum carrying their dirty dishes I vowed never to let myself be tormented like that. I was not going to the one receiving orders from masters. I buried myself in books ignoring the remarks they threw my way. “You will never succeed in life, The only job suited for you is to be a wife or cleaner, You are a savage just like your dad.” I loved reading books but they always criticized me saying instead of wasting my time with novels I should read my school books. But my dad encouraged me to read, wiped my tears and taught me how to rise up above the hatred.
My dad fueled my imagination at every chance he got. He led me to dream big and reach for the stars. He questioned my beliefs, debated with me and taught me to stand up for what I believed in. He let me take huge leaps and sometimes allowed me to make mistakes and learn from them.
I still remember asking him what he was going to gift me for my birthday. He would say a book and a pen. I would complain that he always gifts me a book. I want a doll house, a new dress, a piano or a trip to the zoo. He would look at me, hold my hand and say, “Princess, you can have all that when you read. You will have adventures with new characters, expand your vocabulary and also ignite your creativity.” With a pen, I would write silly stories and dad would grade me with an A+. For my books, he would build a tiny library for me. While my friends played with dolls and toys, I played with books. When I won an award for being the best reader in class, I was overjoyed and realized the depth of dad’s words.
I was always bombarded with words of ridicule by them. You are fat, you are ugly, you should oil your hair, your friends are not right for you, don’t wear high heeled shoes, don’t do this and don’t do that. The always complained and complained. I often had bouts of self-doubt and pity, wishing I would miraculously wake up and see myself in another world. My only hope was my dad. He would hug me and tell me “when there is no hope, find it and make yourself be the only hope you need.”
I recall how excited I would be when I came the third hoping they would approve my effort but they only said you did not come the first. Every opportunity they had, they utilized it to the maximum to crush me and to ensure we were always dependent on them.
By God’s grace, dad finally managed to secure a job and to this day I am proud to have him as my mentor, and my father. Whatever I am today, I owe it to him. He is my heaven on earth and no one can ever replace his presence in my life.
Today, when we are self-sufficient and can provide for ourselves, they shower us with good words and send us dishes full of fruits and sweets. They show fake concern and attempt to mend the broken relationships.
I rose above their hatred and negativity.
And now I do not need their care, love or support.
I have whatever I want and there is no place for negativity in my life.