Wow, who would’ve thought? Here I sit on my last evening of being 34, in the dark both literally and figuratively. Eskom has cut the power again, they chose not to follow the maintenance plan presented to them 20 years ago when everything had to be handed over to the then ‘new’ government and now, here we are: In the dark more than once a week thanks to incompetence and an inability to be proactive and have any foresight whatsoever. . . 20 years ago. I wonder what the me of 20 years ago would think of the me today? Would I match up to what she dreamt of? What she wished for? I’m not sure… Would she have kept herself alive if she’d known what she would have to live through, in all honesty?
I sit here, in my flat, alone, with the song by Parletones: “This song is forever, even if you’re rich, even if you’re poor, every breath you breathe, I’ll be there for you” being played live from the Botanical Gardens. . . absolutely nothing near my truth or experience, but at least someone in the band has had the privilege of experiencing such a place of love, I guess. Yet, if I think back, it seems I created my lost space and aloneness from a very young age. At 11 years old, I distinctly remember having an awesome class teacher and I wanted to be like her, she didn’t wear a ring, so I thought she was a spinster and in my autobiography, where I had to write ‘my plans for the future’, I wrote that I’d like to be a spinster. Here’s the catch though, I found out years later that she wasn’t a spinster at all. So my ignorance signed and sealed my destiny, for I’ve been told that what you write down becomes your truth and future. So, that would make this all aloneness my own fault.
Still, there’s another catch in this story, because I know that even the little girl I was 20 years ago would have told anyone that she wanted to ‘follow God’s plan’ and she knew she would be ok, whatever happened. So that begs the questions: “Is my aloneness God’s plan for me too?” “Was He aware of my mistake so many years ago, did He orchestrate that I would create this fate?”
We had family photographs today and my sisters and their husbands with babies had their new family photos. Cousin and her little ones. Aunt and Uncle. Gran and the other 3 generations… me… I got a profile shot, and ones with sisters and niece and nephew. I wasn’t left out, I had a place: Aunty. Indeed, a special place and an important place, especially as I’m Godmother for both as well. Aunty. Would me 20 years ago ever have put me as Aunty? I don’t think so. I’m not sure a 15 year old’s brain can compute her younger siblings being mothers and herself not, but this is how the story unfolded.
Maybe me 20 years ago would be proud of me for writing a book, acting overseas, travelling to wonderful countries, achieving excellence academically and being closer to God than I ever expected. Or, would I be disappointed that I’ve never been asked on a proper-all-the-trimmings date? Would I feel self-pity and compound my insecurities and unattractiveness even more, without having the proof that I now have? Would being a low-earning teacher disappoint me? Would my inability to fit in with ‘corporates’, with ‘trendy people’, with ‘best friends’, with ‘church-goers’ and ‘all the other stereotypical groups one can think of’, leave me heart-broken that my hope of belonging somewhere and feeling like I belonged was still not the case 20 years down the line, with the evidence in hand? If I had known that following a path of faith and following my inner-knowing would lead me to be so isolated, would I have kept myself alive with the awareness that I would have over 20 years ahead of me filled with more struggles to get up the morning, more use of prayer as my lifeline, more dependency on the belief in a power that would still leave me alone 20 years later?
I have to look at my character here… and that makes the answer: Yes. Yes I’m sure I would have embarked on the journey again anyway, because that’s what God has asked me to do. Yes, I would have carried on, prepared to live through 20 years of trauma, from seeing a man die, hearing a mother screaming at her son’s corpse, being stranded in a country where no-one speaks English with my passport confiscated, in a hospital with no-one speaking English, in a classroom with boys throwing chairs at each other, in family confrontations that ripped my soul out and spat it on the floor, years with chronic fatigue, having my body health reduced to take away my dancing, funerals, nastiness from individuals that my sensitivity reeled in for years after, insecurities that were taught to me and imbedded in me from young… all of it, God called me to all of it. Every tear, every heartache, every illness, silly me would still have said, “I will do it all Lord, if it is Your Will.” So many tears… such isolation and this blasted part of me that continually tells me that there is a purpose to it, that there is a reason for everything, that there is truth in scripture, and truth in following the way of Jesus.
Even though young me would have continued the journey, right now old me is asking her not to. Asking her to take a different route, an easier route… but that is futile, for I know within me, more than anything else that I know, that any route other than God’s is meaningless; that my soul simply would not be able, could never, take a route that has a dead-end in meaninglessness and lack of Soul Upliftment. Soul Upliftment is only achieved through choosing to see the good and do the good, no matter what and no matter how hard: you have to be the goodness, live truth and choose light, otherwise nothing within will grow to be better, stronger and more enlightened…what other meaningful purpose can there be?
So why would I ask young me not to do this? Because it is so hard, and it feels like it is only getting harder. I have learners in my grade 12 group now who are more immature, selfish, inconsiderate, apathetic, self-absorbed, disrespectful and ungrateful than any other learners I have ever encountered overseas or in my South African classrooms over a 7 year span. Two of them are even teenage mothers and they still have not chosen to behave like adults! They have spent over 2 years draining my energy and instilling in me a hate that disturbs me more than anything I have ever experienced before. It is frightening that 2 of said human beings can be so monstrous that they poison everything in their presence. I don’t want young me to grow up and have to live day to day dealing with what I’m dealing with at work, with no escape, with God not opening a window or a way out.
Then there is no release for what that poor girl must live through. She will come home to an empty flat with no-one to tell her frustration to, no-one to pray with her through the hatred she has been poisoned with. No-one to help with shopping, ironing, cleaning, cooking, maintaining vehicles and/or her property. No-one to help or console her when all the nastiness outside of work and in the world drives it’s fist into her stomach; and her battle to stay balanced, find peace and gather energy is by way of daily pleads in every prayer…
That poor girl, I don’t want her to have to live with the knowing that, at 35, she still won’t connect with any other soul, mutually, at a complete level of knowing that knowing is shared, that intrinsic desire to live in love is matched without doubt or insecurity. She will be stuck with tears at her aloneness, and fighting with her own insecurities and irrationalities too, struggling with the self-doubt so many have fed in her for so many years. She will have so much to cope with and deal with and then she’ll get to 35 and be even more lost and without answers to any of her questions, unless she goes deeper within herself, which she is too scared to do, because those trips always ask for more sacrifice and more hurt. She won’t know the whys? She won’t know the what next? What’s left? Why? How she will get out of the rut when God still tells her to “Wait” and she has no idea what she is waiting for or why. She will be living with frustration beyond her worst thoughts, and be stuck in a way that is so inexplicable when she looks at all her talents that she will be sitting in an agony of such drained patience and feelings of God’s cruelty that she will not see the point of living any longer… she will have no sight of any decent future or hope for anything better and still, somehow, someway, she will still have to find a way, pray harder, pray more, to be able to get out of bed the next day… and the next and the next, breathing on hope whilst crying for death.
I wish that little girl would end this story before it begins, but I know she won’t. I know she is a sucker for punishment and even though she knows that when she steps out of her flat into a world FULL of people who, even if they give out a Valentine’s card, have NO IDEA what unconditional love is, have NO IDEA how to practice unconditional-giving, honest-open-conversation, pretences-off-ears-open-listening, faith and all things good; people who are zombies, repeating the same practices over and over and over again… in their lifetime – 100s of rugby games, 100s of quarts of beer, 100s of braais, 100s of trips to shopping malls, 1000s of trips to grocery stores, 100s of passes by beggars… and maybe never ever in their whole lives will they have even one heart to heart conversation with their Creator, or offer themselves in sacrifice to something other than themselves – that little girl will still persevere and serve.
I want to shake her, ask her to find another way, find employment that will provide income that doesn’t involve penny-counting, find a way to make life easier, find a way to get addicted to something to take her mind and self off of the pain and selfishness in the world, the world that she can’t fix…
But, that little girl knows, even at 35, there is no other way, it must be what it must be, even if it involves an aloneness that haunts her soul, tears that wet her pillow and fatigue that makes everything so much more difficult; the days must be lived and something must be achieved, until God says: “Thank-You My Child, you may come home now…”
Happy birthday to me, lost, unsure, stuck, insecure, emotional and menstrual cycled me… reminding myself that today I am one day closer to the turning point, one day closer to going home and that I have one more day behind me that can be put to rest… Happy birthday to me… night night.