Good girls

Bless The Past & Say Hello to Your Future

You have to make peace with your past in order to keep your present and future from becoming hopeless battles. – Mark & Angel


I spent some quality time with my mum today. Talking about the challenges I’ve had in the work environment and sharing the victimizing experiences I’d had with former work colleagues over the years. I found myself laughing as I recounted the bizarre stories, and quietly but briefly, relived a few of the demeaning and humiliating moments.

I felt sweet gratitude wash over me as I shared these incidences because somehow it was hard to believe that I actually did survive them. I felt immensely thankful that they would now forever remain in my past.

I also felt hopeful about the future, knowing that the lessons I’ve learnt can only bring me good and gracious rewards. Just hearing myself laugh as I related these stories of meanness gave me a sense of contentment and tranquility that meant I was at peace with that part of my past.

Another thing that was so comforting during the conversation with my mum was hearing her share about her own sordid experiences in the work place. Many years ago as a young military corporal, and practicing Dental nurse, she had the devil for a boss.

She told me about the unrelenting sexual harassment and unwarranted punishments she had to endure and eventually, foregoing a promising career was the only way to end the continuing coercion.

Years later, she would later to be told by friends and former colleagues, about how the said officer was paid back in his own coin and severely too by time and chance. At the time, she had regained back her profession, and had had many more promising opportunities, some of which she voluntarily relinquished because she wanted to spend more time with us her children.

Today I’m reminded again, that life itself has got its own memory bank where it stores our dos and don’ts and then processes our wages alike. In due time it will give to each of us a corresponding feedback. Everyone in his own coin.

In this regard, I am reminded to consider my present moments as blessings, no matter how they turns out, because I know one day they would be my past. I am reminded also to bless the hardest and toughest of memories and to never hold on to pain, rather release them completely.

My mum also shared about another very disturbing encounter of victimization which she suffered from the hands of two female instructors at the Army Training School in Ojo cantonment, Lagos; in the 1970s. I wasn’t born at the time.

They were both her junior in age but she never spoke back in defense nor did she act rudely in any way. She was the only girl in her class, and for some reason, these instructors decided that they would make her life a living hell. In an attempt to explain how cruel they were, mum said that the only thing that kept her going was because she was bent on becoming a dental nurse by all means. Otherwise under normal circumstances, she would have quit.

Unbeknownst to them my mum’s uncle was a LT. Colonel at the time and as a result she had the acquaintance of several officers who knew her to be his niece. Still she never for once, did she fight back. Least of all make a boast or threaten to use her connections against these female instructors.

They would finally come to this knowledge during an unfortunate encounter with a third party and senior officer who witnessed the ill treatment they rendered to my mum. It was only then that the mistreatment stopped.

Several years down the line, their paths would cross again; they met at the military hospital in Yaba. Mum was visiting an old military acquaintance who worked there as a senior nurse. The story that ensues is one of soberness and regret with tons of apologies to my mum.

That nothing truly goes unnoticed will be my solemn conclusion from these stories. Life sucks it all in into its master memory board and each one of us must tread carefully as each step is a written code in that drive.

How about me and you? We too have also played our sordid roles one way or the other; somehow we have hurt others, mistreated another and betrayed some. Though the memories remain in the past, even so that past too should be blessed and released.

Today as you reminisce upon your own toughest and most engraving encounters, remember to bless them and release them, so that you can embrace the future. Life is too short to hold on to pain and too brief to hold back from liberation.


 

Sometimes your eyes need to be washed by your tears so you can see the possibilities in front of you with a clearer vision – Mark & Angel

Bless the past

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Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere

“I am two women: one wants to have all the joy, passion and adventure that life can give me. The other wants to be a slave to routine, to family life, to the things that can be planned and achieved. I’m a housewife and a prostitute, both of us living in the same body and doing battle with each other.”
― Paulo Coelho

I bet this is the all time conflict of womanhood. The eternal conflict between the woman, who she craves to be, and society with its agenda against what she would rather truly become. The millennia long fight between what is expected from a woman, especially if she would earn the title ‘good woman’. And I think the greatest battle would remain the conflict within the woman herself. The conflict that says, where do I fall, good or bad?

Women somehow always have a superior opinion to things, to life in general. We have a deeper sense of knowing, our intuition has the better part of us, our eyes burrow beyond the surface, our words provide wisdom, guidance and misdirection all at the same time. We are powerful beyond measure. Yet the moment we lose our power to do as we please, to choose the life we would rather live, to cage our desires and our longings, then perhaps, that would be the day we cease to be truly woman. We become simply, human beings, existing for the mere sakes of having breath.

“Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.”
― Mae West

First women have been marginalized, then abused and sold into all kinds of slavery. Women become victims of themselves, victims of their sexuality, victims of their needs, victims of their prefrences. I’m not sure what Mae west meant when she wrote this line, but it gets me thinking of Mary and Rahab. Mary was a virgin when she was betrothed to Joseph while Rahab on the other hand, had been the King’s courtesan. One followed the master for the most part of her narrated history, the other quite superlatively, went everywhere from Jericho to exotic neighboring cities of her time. It gets me wondering, is a good girl immune to misdeeds and is a bad girl incapable of doing right? Where does one draw the line?

A woman will then choose to be who she decides to be while she lets society decide what she would be called and then choose whether to be intrigued or influenced. Many times, a young teenager is addressed with the sweetest names until she is found to be in possession of a love letter in her from some guy. On that fateful day she becomes the bad girl and her mother’s daughter. Of course, this was the case perhaps in my own days; I’m talking about over three decades now. Fast forward to the new millennium — with our fashion craze, and multimedia mania and the voracious monster called the internet — where do you begin to tag who is good or bad. Perhaps we will stretch the preferences to, not so bad, bad enough, partially good, okay, above average. What’s your take? I mean the difference isn’t so clear any longer. There are tons and tons of grey shades everywhere.

“I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.”
― Madonna

When you are mediocre, you are cool, no offense taken. However, if you were a housewife, who stood her ground on all grounds, did what she pleased and went where she wanted, and had a partner who adored you, and supported your home grown business, trust me, you would become a snare to one too many. My point is, you don’t have to be a Madonna to be tagged, you only need to be driven, be ambitious, be committed to a cause, be single-minded and of course be a woman.

Many women struggle, not necessarily because they have been literally caged, but because they are afraid of being called names. They fear human opinion over the fear of extinction. They choose the imprisonment of their true desires over the fear of having lived a stale, tasteless and meaningless life. They would rather not have lived than to do so and then be given a name. What do they do? They choose the cliche and the stereotype over originality. Instead of paying the price, they skip the details of their lives and simply conform.

“One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it.

But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief,

that is a fate more terrible than dying.” ― Jeanne d’Arc

If being tagged means more to you than being who you would rather truly be, then perhaps you should decide what you would rather be known as and act accordingly. If heaven for you means living a quiet simple, not-asking-for-too-much kind of life, then by all means be a good girl. If you want to go everywhere, see the world, take your chances, leap off a cliff and fly, then according to Mae West, be prepared for the backlash – hear the scourging whoosh through the air! However, if you would rather be like me, who wants to go to heaven and without a doubt go everywhere as well, then welcome on board. Simply put, I would rather be happy than dignified. So what does that make me, good cop or bad cop?

Of course everything you have read is just my opinion and the opinion of a gazillion other women who have lived in different civilizations but suffered the same prejudices. So perhaps the purpose of this post, is so you can find out for yourself, your own meaning of womanhood and choose how you want to play your cards, make your own rules and however that turns out for you, be free. You only live once.

“No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body.”
― Margaret Sanger

It’s obvious isn’t it, that whenever the world has something to say about a woman, it is always about and invariably related to our sexuality. It is always about us being sexual beings and the more skilled you become at glossing over that reality and filling out your curves and numbing your power, the world would become a better and a safer place for all. Like I said, it’s only just my opinion…and that of a gazillion other women in medieval times….

Finally, in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, be brave, be exciting, be imaginative, life is an adventure. You can never go wrong handling the reins of your life as such. You can be heaven bound, and be Dora the explorer at the same time. Be who you know how best to be, if there is any fire in your bones, if there is any emptiness, for as long as you’ve got breathe, you will find what you seek somewhere within or in-between. We always do. Live life to the fullest, trust your gut, follow your heart, and leave the brandishers to roast in their own furnace and the one without a fault, is free to cast the first stone.

“Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure.

You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively;

unless you can choose a challenge instead of competence.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

Seeking good

GOOD GIRL GONE BAD

“I can’t decide whether I’m a good girl wrapped up in a bad girl, or if I’m a bad girl wrapped up in a good girl. And that’s how I know I’m a woman!”
― C. JoyBell C.

I picture the prime and proper girl, who’s never kissed a frog. Miss goodie-two-shoes. The girl we all openly claim to be. The undefiled virgin. Never before touched by a male, never before seen in the dark.

Then there is the loud, red-lipped hottie. The one with the voluptuous body, the one that every man wants, the one whose laughter is loudest in the room, the one whose glass is never empty. That is the girl we mostly will like to be. To be loud in our own right and to be bodacious with ourselves.

We are torn between the girl in the flood light and the girl in the dimly lit corner. We cannot say for sure if being the former will permit us enough opportunities to be completely true to our nature and our desires. We are certainly paranoid about the latter, if we went that way wouldn’t it mean that we have suddenly taken on an identity that is abominable, one that inevitably gives us a name with a thick red sign indicating danger.

A goody-two-shoes stings just as well, however, it is a sting that is safer to bear. We are miserable and frustrated, stuck between the girl we claim to be and the girl we dream to be. What do we stand to lose assuming we jumped ship? What will become of our reputation if we did? How would we survive if we didn’t?

We slumber in deep thought, we toss and turn. We weigh the scales and we consider the sacrifices. We contemplate the price to be paid, we swallow lump after lump, our throat sore with fear, and heart pumping blood with anxiety, our flesh perspire with apprehension, we are crippled by our jittery nerves.

Torn between two worlds, we live two lives, one in the open and the other in the closet. One in the  day light and the other in the dark. One with pride, and the other with shame. We are constantly swung between two realms, two existences, two grande stages. One in white stocking, the other in black pantyhose. One moment we are Mary at the feet of the master and the next we are Mary at the mercy of the mob.

 “There are no good girls gone wrong – just bad girls found out.”
― Mae West

Black Woman