Love and Vulnerability

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I’m a romantic at heart, I’m the typical romantic comedy watching, happily ever after person. However, I live in my head and I overthink stuff and I think that’s partially why I’ve never really been in love.

Now, of course, I’ve said “I love you” when I was a teenager, but my definition of love then and my definition of love now are two completely different things. If we both loved sport, literature, shared the same taste in food and just returned each other’s texts and phone calls to me that was love but I’ve realized that loving someone romantically is more complicated than I thought.

To love means being your own person but at the same time being vulnerable and trusting that your romantic companion will not see your vulnerability as a sign of weakness. To love means committing to loving that person past their flaws, to love means to be secure, to be trusting and to be trusted. To love means learning your object of affection’s love language, to love means loving yourself first. It’s not limited to the things I’ve just listed, but you get the idea.

Whenever someone says “I love you” to me, I brush it off with wit and humour and I’ve done this successfully, I can’t say “I love you” back when I don’t feel that way about you romantically. The worst was when I dated someone for 6 months and never said “I love you” to them, they became frustrated and things just didn’t work out. It’s honestly not that I don’t want to open up myself to love but I’m afraid of being vulnerable with people in that way. I like being in control of my feelings and vulnerability just gets in the way of that.

When you’re vulnerable, you’re placing your heart and emotions on a platter for another human to affect it and that is scary! I’m a sceptic, trust isn’t something that comes easily to me. I’m fearless in life but I’m not as fearless in love, going all in and promising to love someone forever just isn’t me. Maybe I’m making excuses, maybe I’m afraid of commitment, maybe I’m scared of things I don’t understand – love being one of them but I also don’t want to be scared at the same time. I’m just confused right now.

I concede that my definition of vulnerability and its attachment to fear and rejection is a hindrance to finding love. I’m still a sceptic, but at least I’m aware of that and I’m working on fixing it. Being vulnerable isn’t easy and it comes with a lot of emotional baggage but I wonder if it’s better than living with “what ifs”.

 

 

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The superhuman Syndrome

I’m stubborn but more than anything I have pride, it’s something I’m working on. I dread asking people for help, it’s just not me. I would rather suffer than ask anyone for assistance. However, in recent times I’ve warmed up to the idea of asking for help and honestly it’s made my life a whole lot easier. How did I come around to the idea of asking for help, you ask, well let me share a story with you.

I worked for CUE media last year during the Grahamstown Arts Festival, my mom had spoken to a relative about accommodating me for the duration of the festival and the relative agreed to host me. The relative lived in the township, sometimes I would be working at the Journalism department until 1am, there’s no way I’d find transportation at that time so I’d have to fend for a place to sleep.

I had friends who were vacation subwardens in their reses, some of my colleagues lived in digs, needless to say there were a lot of people that I could have contacted to accommodate me. However, my pride would not allow me to do that, instead I would wait for everyone to leave the Journalism department and then I’d use the props in the Television studio to create a comfortable place to sleep. I laugh at those moments now but back then I’d cry myself to sleep, I’m able to laugh about it because I realise I was stupid.

Listen! I remember telling Tsholo and Athiphila that I’d spend the night editing one of the performances I shot earlier on in the day, they dragged me out the department, literally! I walked with them, they were going to the Victoria Mxenge residence, I lied and said a friend at Guy Butler residence would accommodate me for the night. They went to Victoria Mxenge, I pretended to go towards the door at Guy Butler residence but as soon as they were out of sight I took a different route. I spent 30 minutes in the cold before making my way to the Journalism department.

My pride made me lie, I hate lying, it was then that I decided I needed to let go of pride and ask for assistance when I need it. Look it hasn’t been easy, I still think twice, okay maybe thrice before asking anyone for help. However, I eventually do ask for help!

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When I got dumped

In all my romantic encounters, I’ve either done the dumping or just slyzad out of the relationship by breaking all forms of communication with my object of affection. Trashy, I know but you still have to understand how shooketh I was when I was dumped.

Me and this guy had something going on, our relationship didn’t have a label, first mistake. Okay, I digress, back to the story, I want us to call the guy Bheki. And no, I’m not calling him Bheki because of Becky with the good hair, I’m not that petty!

Bheki is a year younger than me, yes baby I like them young, I’m kidding I legit didn’t know he was younger than me. I had been single for quite some time, have you ever been single for so long that when you sneeze and someone says “bless you”, you respond with “yes, bless me with a bae, pluz,” well that was me.

Okay back to Bheki, he and I started messaging each other back and forth, basically how most romantic relationships start nowadays. Bheki had a sense of humour and he was nice to look at, he wasn’t tall but nonetheless Bheki was a catch.

Once I caught wind of Bheki’s age, I was a bit disinterested but he’s a persistent fella. He invited me to a game of pool, I’m a very competitive person and I happen to like playing pool or any other sport except for netball, so I accepted the offer. On pool night, Bheki messaged me informing me that the pool club was closed. So, since we couldn’t play pool I suggested that we take a walk instead.

It was a nice walk, we learnt a lot about each other, he accompanied me to my res, and that was the end of it for that night. Bheki and I started seeing a lot of each other, we texted each other from sunrise to sunset. Those were the days.

And then we stopped communicating, haaaa Bheki kanjalo nje lol. Dololo communication! I started listening to a lot of Ella Mai’s music, hee wethu ibingumgowo!! I decided to text him and asked why we stopped communicating, and he justified himself by saying he’d been busy. Listen, if there’s one thing I know as an expert at slyzaring, when I cut off communication it means I’ve lost interest. So I assumed that Bheki lost interest so, I left it at that, I continued with my life, I lost interest, blocked him from my mind, deleted him from whatsapp, I was close to blocking him on Facebook and then he texted me. Wow, the devu never sleeps lol.

I recall being in class and having the time of my life then I read the first part of his message and it said “Hi,  Wanted to be honest with you because I owe you that…” Hee wethu just by reading the first part of the message I had a headache, heyi I was shook!! Without reading the rest of the message, I told him that I was busy at the moment, I’d respond to him later on. I wasn’t busy, I was shook lol.

I came back and read the rest of the message, he might’ve meant it differently but this is how I interpreted the message – Men are trash, therefore let’s not do this anymore because I don’t want to string you along for the ride. Basically, I was dumped because “men are trash”. Let’s all laugh at my life.

I told him I felt the same way and that we should continue being friends. I was able to suggest we become friends because I learnt a long time ago not to take dating at Rhodes seriously and I haven’t been proved wrong yet. I had no animosity towards this guy, I didn’t hate him and I still don’t.

Bheki and I are still awkward towards one another but I know he doesn’t hate me and I don’t hate him. Kodwa bantase, I have to be honest I’m still shooketh by the dumpiology kodwa ke ndazixelela that ndizaba strength lol. There was a time when Bheki was a trigger wowzaz but I’m cool with him now, akukho nto wethu.

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Letters to my 16 year old self

Dear Athini

There’s a sense of security in being in control of your life, from a very young you’ve been able to calculate the outcomes of every decision you make, that’s responsible but that’s not living. Do you want to go through life existing or do you want to live life to the fullest?!

You think too much, you do too little, you give too much but you take too little, you give advice that you never follow. You preach self-love yet you’ve been showing love to others more than you’ve been showing love to yourself.

You’re rushing through life, girl where are you rushing to? You can’t outrun life, life is not a race it’s a marathon.

Forgive yourself for being unable to be everything everyone wants you to be. You’re one person, you’re not superhuman. You’re going to disappoint people, and that’s fine, forgive yourself for disappointing them. Also, it is much better to disappoint people than to disappoint yourself. Strive not to be everything to everyone but be everything to yourself!!

Learn that you can’t give what you do not have, you can’t form relations with people in the hope that you’ll find pieces of yourself inside of them. Water your own flower before watering your neighbour’s flower. You can only give the best of yourself to people when you’ve given a lot of effort and love to yourself first. Prioritize yourself!!

Fall in love with your flaws, embrace your imperfections and learn that true love starts from within.

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Depression doesn’t have a face

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I told a close friend that I had depression, and she said I don’t look like a person that has depression and suggested that we pray. I loved her for suggesting that we pray but I don’t think she understood that depression can’t simply be prayed away.

Mental health issues within the black community, I think, are not taken seriously because we don’t have enough conversations about the condition. When one says they can’t do work because they feel demotivated, they’re lazy, never depressed. If one says they feel a bit under the weather, they’re being moody or grumpy, never depressed. When one says they can’t face people or get out of bed, they’re being rude and anti-social, never depressed.

I was conversing with a friend about the lack of awareness about depression within the black community and she told me about her uncle. He was the life of the party, the most optimistic person she had ever seen. Everyone liked being in his company but one day he was found hanging from a ceiling because no one knew about his depression, not even himself. I think there’s a stigma around depression in the black community, there’s a misconception that one is unable to function and live a full life because they are depressed. When you mention “mental health issues”, the first thing that comes to mind is a mental asylum. That misconception has to stop.

It’s time that we start realising that depression is real, it’s time that we educate each other about mental health issues. It’s time that create spaces where everyone is safe and free to speak about their condition. It’s time that we remove the stigma that comes with depression. It’s time that we take time to understand and acknowledge the severity of depression.

How does my depression look like?

There was a time when I closed off and didn’t allow people to see my soul. There was a time when I would pretend like I was okay when my soul was slowly breaking into pieces. There was a time when I would be happy at one moment and be sad the next. I would be superwoman, aiming to assist anyone that needs assistance but refusing to be assisted. Nothing much has changed but through support and counselling I’ve managed to pull myself together, because I have a fantastic support structure that is willing to listen and understand when I tell them I’m sad for no apparent reason, I am truly blessed. I refuse to allow myself to live in a body that’s constantly in a battle with a mind that refuses to live. I am not depression, depression is a condition that happens to be part of who I am. It’s taken time for me to understand that, but today I do.

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Sometimes:

  1. Sometimes we hang on to friendships and romantic relationships to prove our loyalty and dedication but all of that is a futile exercise if the person you’re hanging on to is not emotionally available to acknowledge it. It becomes draining in all forms to constantly prove that you’re a great person, that you’re their joy bringer and I think that stems from the way some of us approach relationships. My mother once told me that you can’t befriend someone with the intent to change or fix them. Sometimes people can’t be changed by other people and it doesn’t matter how much you convince them that their actions are toxic they won’t see your point. People change when they’re ready to change.
  2. Sometimes people hang on to toxic relationships because they fear solitude. Society has enabled us to normalise certain situations and scenarios to the extent that it seems almost unnatural for a person to remain single for a long time. It seems as though there’s something wrong with enjoying your own company and using that time to work on yourself, educating yourself and determining what works and doesn’t work for you.
  3. Sometimes, love just isn’t enough. It’s possible for someone to claim to love you but act as though as they hate you. I think the reason for that is because we have different definitions and ideas of what love is and what it should feel like to be in love. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to convince someone that they’re not loved by the person who claims to love them but of course they couldn’t understand where I was coming from because we have different ideas of what love is.
  4. Sometimes scars are not physical. I’ve had to explain this time and time again to my guy friends. When you hurt a woman you claim to love you’re slapping her, kicking her, punching her, stabbing her, shooting her over and over again but you will not see the scars physically because it’s not the body that you’re hurting but it’s the emotions, it’s the heart and that’s deeper because emotional hurt lasts much longer than physical scars.
  5. Sometimes, sometimes it’s all about respect. A man that continues to hurt you has lost respect for you. You’ve enabled him to disrespect you, you opened the doors for him to disrespect you but the same way that you opened the door, you can also close it!!
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God changed me!!

I was listening to a Priscilla Shirer talk and something she said touched me!! She was talking about Gods’ patience towards us. She said:

Inside of every kernel of corn there’s a microscopic dot of water, so when you take a bag of microwave popcorn and you place it inside the microwave. You are not actually heating up the shell of the corn but you’re heating up the microscopic dot of water that is inside the shell.

When those microscopic dots of water begin to heat up, it creates steam and the more it steams it presses up the shell and finally there’s so much pressure inside that kernel of corn that it pops!!

Now it looks completely different from the outside, not because you did anything to the outside but because you heated up what was on the inside. When you heat up what was on the inside, what is on the outside automatically looks different!!

This is what God does in our lives, we can’t physically see him but just like the microscopic dot of water he is there and as you heat up the work of God in the inside, as you’re immersing yourself in Gods’ word he begins to press and press against the shell up until one day you pop and become a masterpiece of Gods work, you become a manifestation of Gods’ greatness!!You’ve been changed from the inside out. You become a different being!! God saves and changes!!

Amen!!

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