NEED

Need

The universe playes a trick on us
It makes us love
And love makes us needy

So we bend and fold and adapt and change
Oh, to satisfy our need
To be loved
To be seen
Beyond the skin

Beyond the acceptable ways to be
To be seen
And heard
And understood for once
Treated softly
Taken care of
Like we are worthy
Like we are gold
And precious to another
Living thing

In this need
We are weak
In this need
We hurt
Oh how we hurt

In the hands of another
In the hands of our love
We become helpless, soft, a snail
Without it’s shell

I
And me
And all that I am
Will not
Refuse to
Ever again
Put my need
In the hand of another

I am enough
I will be free
Of the opinions
The weakness
Of your approval
Of what you think you know
Because, really, you don’t

Take me as I am
Or let me be

I will never
Let your choices
Make me
Less than I am

Make me doubt
Make me ashamed
Make me doubt

You
Will never again
Replace ME

YOU
will never again
Make me
Less than

FREE

LEAVE ME ALONE

Stop saying”Turn your face towards the sun and let the shadows fall behind”

It doesn’t work that way

Stop saying”Everything happens for a reason”

It doesn’t

Stop saying”Time heals all wounds”

Time does no such thing

Stop telling me that life is not fair

I’ve known this since birth

Stop telling me to “let it go”

I dont WANT to let it go because then a part of me will be gone forever

I WILL NOT let it go

Even though

It hurts the hell out of me

Every single day

Stay away from me with your platitudes and pretty words
You’ve never been where I am


You’re not there
When I lie sleepless
Staring into the dark


Stop telling me
It’s time to move on
I will not live
At a pace YOU deem acceptable


A part of me will remain sore and heavy
For the rest of my life


Stop telling me
“This too shall pass”


Through grace
I wake up, dress up and show up

I’ve been doing so for years


Just because I carry my scars well

Doesn’t mean they aren’t heavy

HUNGRY

HUNGRY

Hiss of bacon – crunch of toast – syrup golden –  chocolate log

Butter dripping –  jellies crunching – fat a-crackling – mayonnaise

Samoosas and pretzels and quaint pastry squares

Puff them all for me baby

Tell them all for me : “Rise!”

Icing and sugar and lemon meringue

Salmon and fillet and mushroom and cheese

Suck through my teeth and go

in in and IN

Swallow and splutter and sweat gasp for me

I chew till my teeth bleed

I crunch till I spit

I gulp it all down babe

It hurts how it hurts

A feast in my belly

A fat arse in jeans

I’m a house babe

I’m a palace

I’m a freakin’ first prize

My mouth is so hungry

There’s an ache in my gums

My tongue waits for you babe

For Water and Salt

My throat screams for you babe

You made this my fault

When Your Heart Is Breaking

I drove to school this morning listening to  a Rachmaninoff piano concerto while taking in a breathtaking orange-red sunrise over the Eastern Cape veld.

As always, the 35 minute drive allowed my thoughts to wander.

I was thinking about gifts. Blessings. Questions with no answers. Faith. What we believe to be true about God. The “WHY’S” we so often ask.

A friend is going through something similar to what I went through in my mid 30’s, wanting to settle down with the “right” guy, wanting to start a family, maybe feeling a bit desperate because the “right guy” is nowhere to be found! And sadly, the potential “right” guys are running a mile because no man wants to be at the center of the frustration of a  30-ish female with her biological clock ticking louder than the Big Ben every hour on the hour.

big ben

noooo

 

…and the WHY’S just keep coming…

( What follows is not another “Okay, here she goes on a religious mission”…I’m not about to hit you over the head with a virtual Bible. Stay with me to the end please)

eye roll Blank Template - Imgflip

Why Is God ( or the universe )allowing this loneliness? Why is God not answering my prayers? Why did God allow me to move to this place when He knew the unhappiness I would experience here? Why is God silent?

Why, indeed???

Why does God allow loneliness, death, loss, heartbreak, violence, war, the impact of the Corona virus for that matter?

We don’t know.

I often asked my mom “What will I do when you die?” Because the two of us were attached at the hip . She was my shopping, eating out , wine drinking partner and the two of us got up to all kinds of irresponsibility. She would say “Lets see what the waiter does if I order a bottle of wine with breakfast? ” And we would giggle at the waiter’s flushed face all through the entire meal.

Or … “I feel lucky. Lets go gambling!” ( on a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of a hectic teaching week)

“Some day is today. I’m going to buy that Michel Herbelin watch right now !”

And off she went, buying the super expensive watch she’d been eyeing for months.

She was living on borrowed time. And I think she sensed it. During the last year of her life, she lived life to the fullest, doing whatever she felt like, not worrying about the opinions of others. She had fun, she was happy.

When I asked her what I would do without her she always said : ” You will receive grace.”

And I did.

Of course, I was heartbroken. But my life continued. I was comforted.

To me, the answer to our “WHY?” lies in the fact that God did not promise us an easy life on earth. Just because we are “Christian” or we try to be good-ish people we are not given a guarantee that pain will not be part of our lives. We are here to learn. Our lessons are painful.

Now read the words below. For me, they are true.  We hear that WE WILL NOT BE ALONE IN THE STORM. The storm will come, make no mistake. BUT WE WILL RECEIVE COMFORT.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” – Isaiah 43 : 2

skildery

We need to trust our path. Because if there is one thing I know for sure from my own life  it is this :

God’s ways are not our ways. 

God takes our wrong turns and turns them into rights.

God gives us pain so that we can understand the pain of others.

We are , in the end, meant to serve.

Albert Einstein - Coincidence is God's way of remaining...

Quotes about Way god works (29 quotes)

 

( ps. I understand that many reading this post will say “I don’t believe in a God”. I also know from experience that during my worst depressed times I was so completely irritated with so-called “Christians” throwing bible verse at me, saying my faith just wasn’t strong enough. If this is you, I get it. But I have come to know that there IS a path for each of us. Sometimes the reasons for our suffering come many, many years later when we can look back and say : “Ahh. God, now I get why.”)

Stay strong.

 

Kicked The Kitchen Cupboard Yet?

( written on Lockdown DAY 70 in South Africa , 10 weeks in )

Don’t do it. Kick the kitchen cupboard. It hurts. I know because I’ve done it a few times during the past two weeks. You can safely say that emotionally I am now crazily swiveling between ANGER and SADNESS if you look at the 5 stages of lockdown emotions proposed by Anne Marie Collins.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-8190399/The-five-emotional-stages-coronavirus-lockdown-impact-mental-health.html)

 

stages

One minute I’m crying in the bathroom,  the next I’m furious with the world.

It’s difficult to pinpoint why. I’ve been trying to analyze the emotion objectively but so far I can’t call it any specific thing. It’s just THERE. Like in the movie Bird Box where they all land up living “happily ever after” in a huge glass bird box…It’s all beautiful and peaceful and harmonious except that THEY CANNOT LIVE OUTSIDE THAT CAGE. Trapped forever with a glass ceiling as your sky.

Trapped. Freedom deleted. Dog on a long chain, walking until the chain snaps you back to reality. Pressed down. Controlled. Manipulated into the “new existence” our lives have become. Cut off, confined, closed in, imprisoned. By a tiny little deadly thing hanging in the air we breathe.

What 'Bird Box' is really about - Insider

 

 

We went to East London last week. It is our closest city, about 125 km from the farm. A trip to try and get back a feeling of normality in our bones.

But nothing about the trip felt “normal”.

Yes, you could walk into shops, even buy winter clothing, but without being able to try them on first. Police tape closing off all changing rooms. And with a “no return” policy in place.

Yes, there were people around. People with worried eyes, quickly getting what they needed and then getting the hell away from the place. No shared smiles, no greetings, no WARMTH.

No music in the shops. Never thought I would miss the music in shops! Even Christmas music would have been better than the awful silence!

Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh
Hey, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh!
jingle bells spiderman christmas song - spiderman vs santa _ ...
Remember those irritatingly jolly times in malls just before Christmas?
I miss it. I really do!

Shopping was like a visit to the pharmacy. Clinical, cold. Quick, before you caught whatever illness the person in front of you in the queue had.

We bought lunch at a garage shop, eating chips and drinking Cokes  in the car on the way back. How I missed our usual pasta joint…alive with smells, cheerful Saturday crowds, great food, LIFE…!

 

3 Restaurant Snack Trends to Watch—or Steal

I’m going to steal these words from  :

“In this pandemic, it’s almost as if we’re living in a collective state of suspended animation. Shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders, quarantines and social-distancing mandates have all led to a persistent, almost eerie, shared discomfort. Life under lockdown can feel like being adrift on the Atlantic: we’re desperate for any sign of land, yet nothing but an ominous, uncomfortable vastness looms. That vastness is uncertainty itself.” 

(https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikaboissiere/2020/04/29/covid-19-lockdown-when-will-this-feeling-end-how-to-manage-through-uncertainty/#2c995b6112d6)

I spent some time crying on the bathroom floor today.

Why?

Because I can feel my depression rearing it’s ugly head. The lethargy, the pressure on my chest, the irritation, the rapidly beating heart waking me in the middle of the night.

Because I’ve turned into an overcritical parent. I’m tired of dealing with my cooped up kids. Fighting more, constantly hungry, missing their school and their friends. 

I’ve become a swearing under your breath type person.

I resent not being able to do my job the way I used to. 

I resent the amount of chocolate I’m devouring daily. 

I resent the fact that my life feels so out of control and even more the fact that I can’t see or predict the ending. 

From my ship to yours…as we drift in this storm…

Don’t kick the kitchen cupboards.

Try slamming a door or two.

It works better.

And may we keep our sanity in this time of extreme trial.

 

 

 

 

SNAKE (part 2)

I wake up covered in vomit. There’s a tinge of daylight outside the shed. It’s cold. So cold.

O God, no.

Why did you make me wake up? I pleaded with you, God. Did you not hear my voice? Did you not see my life? My struggle?  WHY , God?

I lie in the vomit on the sandy floor and watch the sunlight creeping up, up, up  in the sky.

A new day has dawned.

I am alive.

And so is the guilt.

What have I done? How will I explain this ? How, o God, will I carry on ?

It’s the thought of my son that gets me to move.

I walk to my car. Slowly. My legs are wobbly, my brain fuzzy, there’s a roaring in my ears. The world outside comes into focus, then disappears into a bleak black and white landscape. But I start the car.

I start the drive home.

(ps. This was a record of my 4th suicide attempt. I survived an overdose four times. During the above event I swallowed enough tablets to have killed me. They didn’t.

It is now ten years later. 

My life has made a complete turnaround due to the correct medication, cognitive therapy and eventually Electroconvulsive  therapy  (ETC).

When I posted SNAKE (part 1) I ended up feeling like a fool. 

I felt that the post was overly dramatic and that people who read it would think I was just looking for sympathy and attention. 

But I feel that if someone ( even just one person ) read the post and saw the eventual positive turn my life took afterwards, I was prepared to feel a bit foolish!

Remember this :

The suicidal brain is not functional normally anymore. The suicidal state ( which I call “The Snake” ) is convincing the individual that THERE IS NO WAY OUT. It is hard to argue with your own brain when it has become suicidal. Your brain is telling you death is the only relief. But if we can just WAIT IT OUT for a few hours, the suicidal impulse does pass. 

There was a time when my first impulse after an argument, a hurt, a rejection was to swallow endless amounts of pills. 

I now have a warning and a reminder on the door of the medicine cupboard . It says :

“Die Jirre lief jou, Finish en Klaar!” ( Afrikaans for : God loves you. No Ifs and no Buts)

To me these words mean :

STOP.

WAIT.

THINK.

I hope my post has reached someone ready to end things.

I hope you WAIT. STOP. THINK.

And know that you are not alone. Your situation is not without hope.

“Die Jirre lief jou. Finish en KLaar!”       

   

If you would like to read more I’d love for you to visit my personal blog about my life on a farm in South Africa and my career as a teacher at a rural Xhosa school. 

https://teachingtough.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SNAKE ( part 1 )

The evening starts with the best of intentions. I have bought snacks and the wine is cooling in the fridge. Candle light flickers across the dining room ceiling. I pray that my restless 18 month old son will go to sleep soon. This evening is important. I need to make it work.

Conversation between me and my husband starts to flow instead of falter. The wine is relaxing my nervous brain. It literally feels like a flipped switch. Icy cold insides, followed by warmth and comfort. Thank you to the god of alcohol.

And then suddenly he says something. Something about how I’m handling our hyperactive son. I take it the wrong way. He says.

He says he didn’t mean it to sound quite as harsh. He says it’s the alcohol clouding my judgement.

…and ….we’re off!

Accusations flying. Bitter words. Angry, resentful words. Blame, disappointment, disillusionment with how ours lives have turned out.

His hands are in the air and he says he’s going to bed. Because this argument is pointless. We are going around and around in circles.

He turns his back on me.

The snake is there. Just like that. Inside my mind.  I’m not thinking anymore. I grab the pills from the cupboard where I’ve stored them. Grab two bottles of wine from the fridge. I’m in the car. I know I’m driving too fast. I don’t care. I can’t anymore. There is no way out. I can’t be a mother. I don’t want to be a wife. My son deserves so much more. I need to leave so he can get to that good place where someone capable will take care of him.

I’m on the dirt road. There’s a shed in the distance. I turn the steering wheel sharply towards it, landing in the veld. I flatten the accelerator , my only aim to reach the small building.

When the car stops, I open the first bottle of wine. Drink from the bottle. Open the pills and start swallowing them in handfuls. They stick to the corners of my mouth. Swallow, swallow. More wine, more pills. Until there’s nothing left.

I’m on the floor in the shed.

God. I can’t. Forgive me.

I say these words as I fall asleep.

Aaaaaand…Action!

Examine the image closely.  Imagine yourself on that stage, under those lights. Imagine all those seats filled with students. There’s anticipation in the air because they are finally quiet. Ready for the show to begin. All eyes on you. On your every move. On your outfit, your shoes, your hairstyle. Is your heart beating a little faster?

Mine certainly is!

Image result for teaching is

I am a socio-phobic extrovert. I was born a complete extrovert, easily talking to whoever, whenever. I sailed happily through primary school, a confident child.

In High School my little world came crashing down. I had gained some weight and by Gr 11 I was bullied daily about my appearance, my glasses, my nose, my “nerdy” long school uniform. I was the academic and music award type, not the party type. No boy ever looked in my direction. The bullying became so bad that I spent a week sitting in the school toilets in my Gr 12 year. I refused to go back to school and eventually completed Gr 12 through a correspondence course. Social phobia, extreme anxiety and depression hit me full in the face. To cut the sob story short, I spent most of my twenties and thirties avoiding people and social situations.

Which brought me to my choice to spend the first 10 years of married life on a farm, having very little contact with the outside world.

But Extrovert me started rearing her head more and more …she was alive and well, it turned out! We can run but we can’t hide from our true selves…

Extrovert me was in agony. No people, no daily goals, no money of my own, no control over my own life! Enough was enough!

Enter…Mrs O, or ” Mam” English teacher as my kids call me. ( find my teaching tales about life as a teacher in rural South Africa here http://teachingtough.wordpress.com)

Teaching brought the personality I was born with out in full force. There are times when I almost have an out-of-body experience, looking at myself from a distance and thinking “Who is this person talking to 40 teenagers ??? ”

Ten years ago I would have run for the hills.

I am so grateful that I didn’t.

Being “The One On Stage” takes it all out of you. Remember, you are a teacher from the moment you drive through the school gates to the moment you drive out. And being “The Teacher” means you are actress, mother, nurse, councellor, disciplinarian. For those hours on the school grounds you are “ON”.

You can’t show weakness, illness, tiredness. Embarrassment, doubt or anxiety. You have your role, and you have to play it. That is your job. Projecting confidence. Showing control. Shoulders back, steady voice, efficient.

Does it take all you’ve got to give?

YES.

Is it worth it?

YES. Absolutely, 100 % worth it. Even for a scaredy cat like me.

Image result for images cat

Baby, You Scare Me

I left my baby somewhere in a parking lot. Left him still strapped into his car seat on the cold tarmac.  I walked away.

Now it is dark outside. I need to find my son. I can hear him crying but I can’t find him. There is no one but me in this huge, grey building with it’s many levels circling up, up, up into the night sky. He’s not crying anymore. He is screaming. I try to place the screams but I can’t. I’m running through the emptiness. Where is he? WHERE IS MY BABY???

And then I wake up. My heart is pounding, I am drenched in sweat. I check on my son sleeping in his cot. Focus on his chest to check if he is still breathing.

This is the recurring nightmare I had when my son was born. Also, I dreamt of him falling from a balcony. I run to catch him, but can’t reach him in time. It all happens in slow motion. In eerie silence. My arms are stretched out to catch him. It’s too late. He has gone over the edge.

The worst thing was that the panic didn’t leave me when I was awake. I lived with heavy dread in my chest and anxiety like red ants crawling in my stomach. I could’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I was out of control with worry over this tiny being I was suddenly so very responsible for. How could they leave me to take care of this little life? What if I dropped him? What if his soapy body slipped out of my hands in the bath? What if he had too many blankets at night? What if he was too cold? What if I didn’t sterilise his things properly? What if some germ entered his body and it was my fault?

The craziness just kept on coming until one morning I couldn’t move. I sat crying on my bed, frozen in fear. I told my husband that I could’t do it. I couldn’t be a mother to this child. It was all a big mistake. I literally felt like his real mother was about to walk in the door and all would be well again. She would take her child and she would know how to keep him safe.

What the hell was wrong with me?

I had read every single pregnancy book and magazine while I was pregnant. I was prepared for a c section due to high blood pressure, I pre-washed all the tiny baby outfits in special detergent, folded them neatly and stroked over the soft fabric, dreaming of holding my baby close for the first time. I had wanted this baby for such a long time!

But things just seemed to go wrong from the start.

My due date was February the 2nd, a Friday.

On Wednesday the 30th of January my blood pressure kept on climbing. We live on a farm, 125km from the nearest hospital, so my husband was in charge of taking my BP twice a day. At 21hoo that night my BP was 180/120. We checked in with my gynae and he told us to get in the car and get to the hospital immediately. It is a 90 minute drive. By the time we reached the hospital my BP was 200/120. I was taken straight to theatre, had an emergency c section and my son was born at 00h45 on the morning of the 31st of January.

I felt nothing like I thought I would. His tiny features didn’t look familiar to me at all! I felt no connection, no instant love, nothing. I tried to breastfeed but he wouldn’t latch.

The breastfeeding just didn’t work. Redfaced from crying, my son was hungry. The first feelings of doubt settled in my head. Why wasn’t this working?

But I had read all the info on “Breast Is Best!”, and I was determined to do it.

We were discharged after three frustrating days.

My Mother In Law came to help out during this time because my own mom had passed away during my pregnancy. I was 16 weeks along when she had a heart attack. My mother and I were really close. But her death left me numb. My body protecting the growing life inside me. Big red flag. Someone should have noticed. No one did.

Once home, we continued with the struggle to breastfeed. My son was crying permanently. Waking up every 1/2 hour to feed. I sat in the same chair night after night, trying to settle him.

Nothing helped.

I woke up somewhere in week 2 and was told that MIL had given my baby a bottle. He drank and drank, finally getting the food he needed. I should have been grateful. Instead, I was furious. She had made an important decision about my child without asking me.

And then came the little voice again : “Maybe she just was a better mother than I could ever be?”

At the three month mark I fell apart completely. I went to a local GP, told him how I felt and was promptly told to pull myself together because my son didn’t ask to be born and he didn’t deserve this. One of the many idiots I came across during my two year journey with Post Natal Depression.

Because that is what it was. The irrational fears, the heaviness, the doubts about my abilities as a mother. The mission it was to get dressed, brush my teeth and face each day.

Post Natal Depression. What I was going through finally had a name.

My recovery was a long process of trial and error. It included 2 suicide attempts, 3 admissions to psychiatric treatment facilities, going from one psychologist to the next to find the help I needed.

I spend my life shouting from the rooftops: PND is real! It is treatable! Please be aware of the triggers and the risks!

I come across many, many misconceptions about the condition.

“Pray, and it will all get better.”

“Just keep going, it will get better.”

“Suck it up. You wanted this baby, remember?”

Yes, I did.

Today he is 12 years old. A beautiful soul with a heart of gold. He does well in school, he is popular with many friends,  he has a fantastic sense of humor.

I look at him and think : “We made it , boy. Yes, we did!”

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