Self-accusation

BEAUTIFUL IMPERFECTION

Broken but together, cracked but not falling apart, bitter but sweet, shaken but at peace


I am broken inside
I have survived a great crash, yet again
I have been thrown hard against the tides
I have been struck by lighting
I have been smashed against the rocks
I have been swept ashore
I am many pieces, about and without
Still I remain single, assembled, afire, astir,

I am fractured all over
I am scorched by sun, day in day out
I am frozen by night
I am constantly tauten in every instance
I am stretched thin
I am made to shrink, yet again
I am a victim of my aspirations
Still I remain single, assembled, afire, astir,

I am a vase of tulips and gall flies
I am the honeybee and the honey
I bear in my body bitter experiences, then again,
I bear in my mind sweet memories,
I am the lovely daisy,
I am alive by day and asleep at night
I am a product of two worlds
Still I remain single, assembled, afire, astir

I live in the center of insanity
I am swung north and then south
I travel through a rickety terrain
I bob along with the rapid bumps and jolts
I navigate chaotic cities and its mindless citizens in my stride
I harvest a speck of sense from their mindless babble
I am shaken about and without
Still I remain single, assembled, afire, astir

imperfectns

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

Fighting my battles

I find myself in a dark place. I’m taking slow baby steps with my two kids by my side and a crumbling marriage on my mind. I can’t see what is ahead and I cannot wait to make a fire. I do not know how to make one even if I tried. These are strange territories, there is thick darkness all around me, my heart is sinking beneath the weight of the past 6 years, and my mind is screaming all kinds of menace at me. I can barely think!

My body shudders for terror and my hands clench with fear, my kids moan with fright. They grab my hands, each on one side. I can feel their bodies tremble as well, even in this darkness I could feel how the tremor of the horror I felt, crept through my veins into their tiny hands. I drag my two kids closer to myself, I try to take quicker baby steps, but I must go slowly still. I’m feeling the grounds around me for pitfalls; I do not want to end up in some booby trap, not with my babies.

I know I have to make a fire, I need to, so I can see my way in this dark place but the screaming in my head will not stop. It would not let me think. I can hear all the voices of accusation from the last six years, they are growing louder and angrier. How did I get here? How did I find myself at this unfortunate bend? How is it possible, that I am here now, with two toddlers and a fractured marriage, walking blindly through a dark, dark, dark place?

Have I made the right decision to leave? Is this the right thing to do at this stage of my life? To be without a husband and a home? Should my kids be a part of this now at this point of their development? Should I have stayed for their sakes? Should I have bore it all; the verbal abuse, the mental degradation of my self-pride, my self-esteem and my beliefs? Should I have stayed to receive the constant battering of my mind, bore the loss of my self-dependence and self-containment? Should I have let him suck out the life from me so long as he didn’t lift a hand to physically overpower me? Should I have bore it all in silence?

Where does one draw the line between verbal abuse and physical battering? How does one determine the PH value for abuse? When does it cross from alkalinity to acidity? How long before verbal abuse morphs into physical battering? What are the parameters for determining how and when physical battering can lead to maiming or death? When do you take precaution? What is precaution? Is it the loss of faith and belief in the vows that you’ve hung unto for as long as you can remember? How does one condone abuse? Do you shot your ears from without or from within? Without I can hear him call me all these names; he has given me an identity that is tantamount to useless and worthless. Within I can hear the indictment, of self-abasement and self-accusation. So tell me, how do I shut out the accuser? Who is the accuser? Is it my self-absorbing husband or my guilt stricken self?

Daily I am becoming this monster, this monster that he has brandished me, this monster that I have remorsefully nurtured, like a werewolf, I have become this being, and I cannot recognize who I am becoming. My head is swelling with regret and anger and with confusion. My heart pounding with fear and with terror, and frustration, for I became a prisoner in my own home. I thought a woman’s home was meant to be her castle, her palace, her fortress. I thought it was meant to be her citadel, her stronghold, not her jailhouse.

Woman in the mirror
When I look in the mirror, I do so, not to examine the shadow I have become, but to find the girl I once was; that rich, zesty, and centered girl. She held her own and had this strong presence about her. Her voice rang out with gusto and with pride. Her strides, long and assertive with strong athletic feet that bounced with exuberance. Her vision sharp like that of an archer, her bow in one hand, arrows in the other, she had a dream, she had a plan. This marriage was meant to be part of that plan. I stare into this marred image, searching, hoping, weeping. Where has that girl gone? Is she asleep? Did she fall off a cliff and break a limb? Is she badly injured or is she on a journey? Will she be back? Will I still be here when she returns? If she returns, will she find a home or a wasteland? Will she recognize this body to be encapsulated by it? Will she recognize this battered mind to embody it?

After much pondering, I chose liberty above detention. When it came to it, I had to choose my humanity above being a werewolf. I chose my sanity above mental torture and deficiency. I chose this temporal darkness and I reject the artificial lighting of my glorified prison. Permit me to say that I chose life above death; death of who I am — really and truly — my worth, my beliefs, my dreams, my values. I chose my invaluable self. Hence my new creed and statement of belief; I choose my true authentic self even though now, I am only a shadow of that girl.  I choose my strong, beautiful, and ambitious self, even though now, all that is left are shards and pieces of what she used to be. I chose my strength, my resolve, my dreams and my pursuit of happiness, even though there is barely a trace of such left.

My heart is wrenching in two places as I walk away from the one whom my soul loves. I can barely contain this feeling, for it is gruesome as well as liberating. I feel pain and I feel joy. How is this even possible? Why does following my dreams have to be so grisly? How can love suddenly transmute to abhorrence? My heart is wrenching, and I feel bloody lumps of flesh fall off and splatter around me as I walk away with a broken heart. Which brings me to the question; am I walking away from love? Am I walking away from what could have been? Or am I walking away from abuse; am I walking away to find safety? Am I walking away for dear life?

One minute I was contemplating jumping off the balcony of my home, the next minute I am scrambling with my kids in one hand and in the other, a dozen fragments of what was meant to be my luggage. I am desperate for life. So I chose to leave through the front gate and not the balcony. I chose a flight to safety by plane, not a leap off the terrace with despondency. After much running, I find myself here, in this dark but safe place. It maybe dark now, but soon, would light up with brightness, and with sunshine from within, like the rising of a phoenix. I know I will find myself again. It may take a while, but look out for me like you would the rising dawn. It is not too long from now.

I do not know where the road ahead is going to bend, but first, I must fight my battles and overcome my demons. I must overpower each of these growling voices within; monsters fighting for my soul, I am certain they will not win. I will yet rise. First I must heal, I must believe again, I must hope again. I must awaken the girl within, I must find my strength. I must choose my life again. I must love my self yet again. I must nurture my dreams again. I must get back on the race. I must run to win. I was born to win.

I don’t know how to fill this hole in my heart but with each step I take towards the light, I remind myself that this walk is not going to last forever. Nothing is cast in stone. Everything is but clay in my hands. I smile. I’m hopeful. I can now see the light ahead. It is like a tiny dot on a thick black blanket. Like a sparkle at the end of a tunnel. If I can hold that image long enough, I know it would emerge anytime now and the light will flood my being again…

…but first, I must fight my battles…

Tell me when, the time we had slipped away,
Tomorrow turned to yesterday,
And I don’t know how…
Tell me what can stop this river of tears,
It’s been building up for years,
For this moment now…

Tell me how the road ahead is going to bend,
And how to harness up the wind,
And how to say goodbye?
Tell me how to fill this space you left behind,
And how to laugh instead of cry,
And how to say good bye?
– Michael W. Smith

“For Vanessa and all the women who suffer abuse in silence. XOXO”

Keeping strong