Thank you…

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Thank you for ripping my soul apart in so devastating a manner that I have no choice but to stitch myself back together – properly this time.

Thank you for showing me exactly the type of man who will never deserve a space in my heart again, ever.

Thank you for showing me that I am strong beyond comprehension – something I have never believed about myself.

Thank you for showing me that I am capable of the most incredible and all-encompassing love that a person has to offer.

Thank you for showing me the greatness of the love I have to give and how to keep that so fiercely guarded that I never waste it on another undeserving boy playing at being a man.

Thank you for showing me who you are and teaching me how to listen out for someone who is narcissistic and subversive, in effect teaching me exactly the toxic type of man whom I need to stay away from. 

Thank you for teaching me how to not be so selfless that I (almost) forget who I am.

Thank you for teaching me that I cannot pour all of my love into another in an attempt to heal them.

Thank you for replacing me so easily that I had no choice but to excise the cancer that is you, move on and keep moving on, every day, one foot in front of the other.

Thank you for teaching me that my boundless love does not come from me (it comes from a Source so much bigger than me), and that despite pouring all of myself into you, I’ve in fact gained more than you could ever have taken away.

Thank you for teaching me that I am not hateful – not in the least – because even after all this, I don’t hate you.

Thank you.

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INFJ_characteristic_4

The fourth installment in the INFJ characteristic series. I have tried to keep to the simplified format of the series however this is the one that really and truly hits home for me so I’m going to go into some necessary detail.

I spent a large part of my life not understanding who or what I was or why I felt so out of place–often at odds with the world–yet had such a strong desire to make a difference in people’s lives, which would explain my altruistic actions in the past.

Descriptions of the INFJ always emphasise our peaceful natures but few go into depth about our dark side – and it is very dark when we are stressed in the long term or our home environments are in turmoil.
The INFJs dominant function is introverted intuition which means that the shadow function which emerges when we are under stress is extroverted sensing. This is something the INFJ has extreme difficulty managing.

Stress in the INFJ causes obsessive focus on external data which is the exact opposite of how a healthy INFJ processes information, and this in turn makes the INFJ extremely irritable and obsessive, making us seem nit-picky and irrational.
I see it in myself whenever I allow stress to get the better of me.

Stress will also cause a skewed focus on sensory pleasure, which can manifest in self-medication like excessive drinking, overeating, shopping for things we don’t need and becoming uncharacteristically self-centered.
If you speak to my ex-husband, you will see him nodding his head in agreement. This is because my home and internal lives were in a state of chaos and I had no healthy coping mechanisms, so I became the worst version of myself in that environment.

Finally, stress will create in us an adversarial or misanthropic attitude to the world around us. The INFJ is primarily characterised by a desire to better the world around us, to make a real difference in the lives of individuals, so this may seem a little extreme but when forced to exercise our sensing function, with which we do not have much understanding due to our strong intuitive leanings, we will become suspicious, intolerant and frustrated with the world around us.
The people nearest to us will then become the unwitting and incredulous recipients of “INFJ rage”.

If you are looking for an in depth analysis on this subject, Naomi L. Quenk is an excellent resource for how each type reacts when they are under pressure and I highly recommend her book, Was That Really Me?

Thank you for reading.

The Christmas Not So Jollies

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‘Twas the eve(ish) before Christmas and I spied on my Facebook feed a post that said simply “I am feeling so down”.
I immediately thought to offer some words of encouragement and as I looked at the comments on the post, I noticed a particularly ill thought out response that read; “Don’t be, it’s Christmas!”

Let me first say that this time of year means little to me. It is at best a time to spend with those close to me and share a meal. Though I am Christian, I do not celebrate this particular holiday. I did as a child but as I have grown and delved deeper into my faith, the reasons and machinations of what Christmas is became less of a production and more of a farce. I am however not here to discuss that—or any person’s choice to celebrate the holiday but it means more to some than it does to others and offering that as a suggestion to fix what may in fact be causing the problem in the first place is largely callous.

There is what feels to me to be a deluge of forced joy and displays of ‘look at how fabulous I am’ that you can only wonder if any of it is genuine or if people are merely trying to keep up with (or out do) everyone else, which is not a little farcical, and don’t even get me started on the metaphor that is the gaudy bauble and tinsel draped trees that are hacked down, dressed and lit up and left to die a slow death as some sort of symbol.

This time of year is loaded with so much expectation by way of bombastic and for-the-sake-of-others’ show, social media plugging about what a wonderful time I’m having on my island holiday or on my destination ski trip, that it creates a very skewed yard stick against which we measure ourselves.

With so many high expectations and people running around behaving like pseudo jetsetters and hotel chain heirs, there are equal, if not greater, amounts of people who succumb to the pressure that this time of year is known to bring.

However, getting back to the “Don’t be, it’s Christmas” statement on my friend’s page, it struck me first as glib and then as a little insensitive. I’m certain that was not the intention but Oscar didn’t intend to kill Reeva, and well, she’s dead… but I digress.

I believe it is paramount that we feel free to acknowledge and express our feelings in order for us to deal with and move past them. Unless we do so, we have little hope of ever overcoming them and growing as individuals.
Furthermore, there still exists an inordinate amount of stigma where mental illness is concerned.
Speaking up is one of the scariest things a person can do because saying the words “I need help” can lead to feelings of incredible shame and failure.

So what am I trying to say with all of this? Well I guess it is that we need to encourage people to talk about the things that are bothering them without fear of recrimination and judgement. That we need to foster an attitude of acceptance regarding how we feel, especially when those feelings appear to be the opposite to what’s going on around us and/or despite what is going on around us.
It can be murder to constantly force a smile because we are expected to be happy and fulfilled.
It takes a super human effort to pretend that everything is okay when you feel like you are breaking to pieces inside. We can often feel a great sense of isolation and loneliness as a result.
The good news is, if we do not feel able to talk to a friend or relative, you can seek the help of a professional. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, everyone—including myself—has at some point had feelings of extreme sadness and/or depression and the important thing to realise is that there is always a way out!

My personal philosophy is “Throw the closet door wide open, monsters hate the light and the more you shine the light on them, the smaller and less scary they become.”
To some this will come relatively easily but for others this can be very intimidating and even frightening. If this is the case for you, reach out to someone, which you can do anonymously but make the effort to reach out.

If you need help or if you need someone to talk to, here is a list of places you can find help:

The South African Anxiety and Depression Group http://www.sadag.org
Depressed Anonymous http://www.depressedanon.com
Psych Central http://psychcentral.com/disorders/depression/

Alternatively, contact a support group in your area.

In closing, I hope that everyone reading this does find some joy this holiday season. Be safe and may the next year be a better year than this one.

Thank you for reading!

It Is Always The Woman Who Is Left Holding The Baby

It is always the woman left holding the baby

 

Recently the results came back for Mr M’s sperm count. He scored zero. He has successfully been “neutered”. Good thing because there was no way in hell I was going to get him to go back under the knife for a second go at the vasectomy! Apparently, it’s like taking a swift kick to the balls. Truthfully I could not, in good conscience, make him endure that again.

This vasectomy thing has been on Mr M’s mind for a very long time, so while my unwillingness to spawn did not affect his decision, it did perhaps encourage him to go through with it. He is very squeamish and I can’t say I blame any man who hesitates. You can’t go boldly into an operating theatre when there is a chance the scalpel may slip. However, I digress.

I would have gone this route myself (a tubal ligation not a vasectomy, just so we’re clear) but thus far, each and every discussion regarding my own “spaying” with various doctors has resulted in the very same response; “You have not had children, you are too young and there are no health concerns to justify sterilisation at this time.”

From female doctors, no less. You’d expect there to be a fair amount of empathy, or sympathy at the least, from a woman who has seen enough babies born to very young, unprepared and unwilling mothers to at least entertain the thought of sterilising a woman who has made the choice to remain childless.
Though by the same token, they would also have seen many women who’ve struggled to have children. Still, I suspect they are the same breed of women who insist I will one day “Meet Mr Right” and “change my mind”.

In any event, the deed is done, the vas deferens has been severed and the stitches have dissolved.

There is a lightness about both our steps and we are a lot more carefree in our affections. Crack the champagne and bring on the oysters!
More importantly, I am no longer pumping my body full of hormones.

I could whinge on about the patriarchal nonsense that prevents women from making decisions that affect their own bodies, but I shall spare you. While the rhetoric seems spoken and written of to death, little seems to have changed for the every woman.

And now here’s the seeming contradiction: I am a pro lifer. I do not advocate abortion but I cannot in good conscience mandate how or what a woman may or may not do with her body. There are situations where, were I myself in the position, I would want the choice and I would want access to licensed medical doctors, clean hospitals and after care. Those instances are rape, incest and endangerment to the mother’s life. I am in complete disagreement with abortion as a method of family planning or convenience. I support the right to life of the innocent, not the guilty.

I am a proponent of sexual education aimed at girls and access to birth control. I firmly believe every woman should be able to make this choice for herself, free from the dogma of society, pressure from her partner (and/or her family) and religious institutions–be they Christian, Islamic or other.

I believe woman should take the bulk of the responsibility for birth control. Before you organise the lynch mob, allow me to quantify that statement.
We need parents to talk more openly with their children about sex, the responsibility that intimate relationships involve and the life long consequences thereof, especially for girls.
We need to instil in girls from a young age that her body is hers and hers alone, that she is the captain of her future.

Because the glaring reality is that it is always the woman who is left holding the baby.

There will always be mistakes and bad choices. We all make them. This is how we learn. I am advocating arming our girls with the facts, unbiased and unashamed, as well as access to contraception to minimise the fallout of impulsive decisions.
The argument that this is like handing your children the license to have sex is moot, especially if you look at where we are today.

Because of the double standard that exists in society between male and female sexuality and what we consider acceptable, or not, in terms of sexual activity, I am in favour of providing as many tools to girls as possible. Because in the end, she is the one who will suffer the lion’s share of the consequences, not her partner ‘in crime’. It may not be fair but it is reality.

So having said all of that, I do not believe this is where the responsibility ends, on the contrary this is where it begins.

Sexual education for boys requires a vastly more honest, responsible and frank approach with regards to the female perspective. The more we teach boys how precious and valuable women are in society, the vastly better off we will be. The less we malign, denigrate and subjugate women, the healthier our society will be.

It is NOT a woman’s responsibility to ensure she dress a certain way to avoid being raped, it is not her responsibility to behave in a certain way to avoid being groped in a night club or leered at on the street. What a man does with his penis is NOT her responsibility nor should she bear the weight of consequence.

So what do we do about the scourge of violence and oppression?

Start with your own children.

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The Narcissist Question

Write

“You sound like a bit of a narcissist.”

This was directed at me by someone who read my blog recently, someone who took offence to a past post. That this person turned out to be someone I knew is neither here nor there. I’ve never believed I was a narcissist but it’s been rolling around in my head enough to prompt me to explore it.

This is an autobiographical blog. I would hazard a guess that the vast amount of blogs on WordPress are of an autobiographical nature.
I use this blog as a tool to work through my experiences and considering that all other comments on this blog have been positive, I take that to mean that someone else out there is able to take what I have been through and perhaps use it.

If we look at the word itself, Wikipedia will tell you that ‘narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity, or egotistic admiration of one’s own physical or mental attributes, that derive from arrogant pride.’
I would say that hardly describes me but I’m honest enough to say that perception is subjective.

In any event, if my blog is to help me unpack things that have happened in the past, to analyse them and use what I’ve learned to be better, do better and keep from repeating the same mistakes, could I not just as easily have used a diary?
Diaries are private. No one else reads them and no one else takes offence because no one else is privy to what is contained in its pages.

A blog on the other hand is used to talk to an audience, and those who may believe they are the ones being spoken of don’t get to have their say to justify their position in your experience.

“I would not be concerned with the secrets, the lies, the mysteries, the facts. I would be concerned with what makes them necessary. What fear.”
— Anais Nin 

Using this quote from Nin is three-fold;

Firstly, it is far easier to lie to oneself than it is to lie to another.

Secondly, Anais Nin and her autobiographical diaries fell into complete disrepute and are now referred to as ‘the liaries’ which go to illustrate the fact that more often than not, we choose to remember things because of how we perceived them without doing enough to try to see the wood for the trees.

Thirdly, the reason I changed the names of all people involved is because it was never about those people. I was after the ‘why’, the ‘what’ that made the secrets, lies and ultimatums necessary. I don’t believe I have glorified myself or demonised others, again perception is subjective and I would welcome constructive feedback if this is not the case.

Further to this, I had accumulated a lot of baggage through my pre-teen years right up to my late twenties and I was starting to self destruct. I took a lot of what happened in my earlier years, internalised it and concluded that it must have happened to me the way it did because I was not smart enough, not pretty enough, not genial enough, not funny enough or not caring enough.

It was during the short time I spent with my therapist that started the journey of self exploration and something ignited when I got an unbiased opinion from someone who could understand and translate the behaviours that my ex-husband and I were exhibiting, having met us both of course. I was no longer to blame for it all. No one is, obviously.

I got to see things from an entirely different perspective and my journey thus far has been one of continued self exploration and the healing that comes along with that has been immense. Piece by piece I have been able to put myself back together without throwing up walls  – something entirely new for me.

~~~~~

Switching gears slightly at this point but this topic goes to the behaviour exhibited by the person who called me a narcissist.

If we look at the way men and women are taught to communicate you will see that women have historically not been encouraged to be honest by society. We are taught to use makeup, clothing and behaviour which forces us to walk a tight rope between two extremes. In the case of clothing; if we dress too conservatively we are prudes and if we dress too provocatively we are whores.

With regards to self-expression, we are to maintain a blank emotional canvas upon which men, (primarily and/or traditionally) can unload their own emotions, thoughts and desires.
Any deviation from this garners comments like ‘crazy’, ‘irrational’ and ‘hysterical’ and teaches young girls that their feelings are not valid or that we should be wary of them, lest they prove too much for a man to deal with which in turn makes us less desirable.

So women who write and who explore are pushing back against this accepted norm to the ire of both men and women. I include women here because they see those of us going against the grain as ‘tree-shakers’ forcing people out of their comfort zones and into introspection.
Some would go so far as to say that woman who explore are breaking new ground and to label someone as a narcissist simply because they choose to write of their own experiences is at best, banal and at worst, gas-lighting.

If you don’t know it, gas-lighting refers to a form of abuse whereby the abuser attempts to make the victim doubt their own experiences, thoughts and emotions. This is most commonly used in relationships where, for instance, a husband will label his emotional wife “crazy” when she is upset over his behaviour, either real or perceived. Instead of addressing the issue together and working through it, the husband has forced his wife to go on the defensive, where he can negate anything she says that does not suit him by virtue of her being ‘irrational’ and/or ‘crazy’.
This also sets up a false reality that emotion and logic cannot co-exist and places the burden on the wife to prove that she is not crazy and that her emotions are valid.

This behaviour develops not because the husband actually believes his wife is crazy, but rather because she is upset which is undesirable. He  likely cannot deal with the fallout of his actions or that he is being made to feel like he has to answer to someone, either real or perceived.

I will, in time write about my own experiences with gas-lighting, how I dealt with it then, how I have learnt from those experiences and how I deal with it now.

In conclusion, I would assert that in the context of the word, who said it and their attempt at gas-lighting that no, I am not a narcissist.
Also I completed a few internet questionnaires and my results were astonishingly average and so based on that scientific assessment *tongue in cheek*, I can put this question to bed and move on.

Thank you for reading.

 

Dreaming of Cape Town

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So after having returned from Paris I have been looking for work and I have managed to find some. Contract finance work. When chasing your dreams it’s important to realise that you may have to do other things while you work at making your dreams come true. For me, finance is a means to an end. I am a ‘word-nerd’ and I want to be surrounded with the written word for a large part of my waking life. This is the realm in which my dreams reside.

Paris was just the first step in the journey of self discovery and also a culmination of sorts. I was finally able to prove to myself that I can do anything I apply myself to. Therein lies the key! Firstly, I have to believe in my own abilities, something which has never been easy for me, to make any kind of success out of what I am doing.
Having proven a lot to myself in Paris, it sparked in me a desire to make some of my other dreams come true. I may be doing this a bit late but let’s not forget that some amazing people have done some incredible things after the age of thirty five.

I have never put very much stock in the cookie cutter model of school-university-get married-buy house-have children-retire way of going about things, however let me just say that I am no free-spirited flower child who completely flouts convention either. I think it’s important to find the balance between the two extremes that most enables you to be the best version of yourself. That is what I set out to do all those months ago and that is why I undertook that journey. Some go to India, some to Mecca, some to Israel, I went to Paris.

When wandering the city streets of Paris it became quite clear to me that whilst I am perhaps not going to be a great writer, it is in this world that I want to spend my time and focus my energy and talents. I shall be doing a diploma in copy writing and the mere thought of doing so sends shivers up my spine, shivers of anticipation, of happiness and joy.
One thing I have realised about Durban is that there is no abundance of work to be had and so the next facet of my dream comes in the form of relocating to Cape Town.
I have spent a, not insignificant, amount of time on holiday in the Mother City and I have friends and family who currently reside there.

Recently Mr M and I jetted of to Ramfest in Cape Town where I was fortunate enough to see one of the bands that I absolutely adore! Ramfest is an alternative music festival and they brought out some heavy hitters like Biffy Clyro, Trivium, ISO, Foals and my personal favourites, Killswitch Engage. I like heavy music but most of the metal has very anti-theistic themes, which I don’t like. Killswitch Engage however, are different and they focus on a positive message with a definite Christian thread. I like that about them but I digress.

During this trip we got a feel for the city and it dawned on us pretty quickly that we would like to live there. Cape Town is a great example of a city where democracy works, where your taxes work for you and where the local government have not forgotten that they work for you. It’s refreshing how clean the city is and it’s a real testimony to the people who live in and around Cape Town.
There is a wealth of culture, music, art and performance art to experience. Boutiques filled to the rafters with vintage, quirky and whimsical apparel. A positively bountiful variety of fresh food and organic markets to delight and surprise your palate. What’s not to love? The winter? Luckily winter is my favourite season and having grown up in one of the countries windiest cities, the wind does not scare me.

So this is where we stand. Plans are afoot and dreams are starting to take form and shape from the nebulous ideas that lie in wait in the very centre of our hearts. The excitement that started before I left for Paris is extending past those glorious six weeks into a more tangible form of anticipation and excitement. I am looking forward to the next few months and years as we put plans into action. I also feel like Paris was just the beginning for me. A time and place and experience that sparked in me the desire to set my life alight and shake off the shackles of routine and mediocrity. We all have it in us to be great in a way that will leave a positive and lasting mark on the world around us and in the lives of those who we come into contact with.

There but by the Grace of God go I ~ John Bradford.

Thank you for reading.