What is your life worth in South Africa?

In June 2017, a man by the name of Brent Kruger was caught in the cross fire in Atlantis Cape Town and suffered 3 gunshot wounds before crashing into a wall and dying from his injuries at 32 years old. There have been countless men, women and children before him who have lost their lives in senseless killings, whether random or intentional.

Gang violence and the effects thereof have been an ongoing problem in the Cape Flats and slowly spreading to other areas in Cape Town. Areas previously known as ‘safe’ or ‘quiet’ are now areas where people have to stay indoors as much as possible, for fear of being robbed or murdered.

And yet life goes on.

We see their names in the paper, we read about their deaths online, in print media, or hear about it on a television broadcast. These nameless faceless human beings are losing their lives everyday and nothing is done.

I ask my fellow coloured people…what is happening to our people?

What is happening in our communities that young men feel the need to pick up guns and join a life of crime? What is happening to our young women who are still experiencing alarming rates of teen pregnancy?

Our people are dying.

We are killing each other.

Coloured people don’t need to fear disease or police brutality, coloured people practice fear of their own race. Daily.

Why is this happening? How long will it continue to happen before someone does anything?

Do coloured people not matter?

I am not one to pull the race card. Anyone that knows me personally knows that I have no racial prejudice. But I have to ask, what is a coloured life worth in South Africa?

Franziska Blöchliger was brutally raped and murdered, her killer was swiftly brought to justice. She deserved that justice, although it won’t bring her back to her family, they got justice. Closure.

Many men and women of colour are murdered every day…where is their justice? Where is the public outrage for their lives being taken too soon?

Where is it? Did I miss it?

Where is the media coverage for all the coloured men, women and children who lose their lives daily? Where is it? Is it that everyone has become so desensitized to this violence that no one is really conscious of the fact that it isn’t just NEWS, or a BODY COUNT in the morgue, these are actual PEOPLE that are dying.

Brent Kruger leaves behind a wife, 3 daughters, a sister and his mother. Not to mention the extended family and countless friends in his community who all mourn his death. Three young girls have to navigate this world without their father. Three girls…who will turn into women, will never have their father walk them down the aisle. 

And what are we doing about it? What is Law Enforcement doing about it? What is the government doing about it?

Everyday people of colour of being gunned down, stabbed, brutally murdered…and what are we doing about it?

It’s taken me a long time to write this blog post. I’ve been angry. I’ve been RAGING with anger. Because these are my people. And regardless of them being ‘my’ people, they are people. They are human beings with dreams and goals and families. And they have no voice. They do not get justice.

Our court systems are over run. Our jails are over crowded. Our police force is over worked. And then steps in the criminal. Easy pickings. Case file goes missing. Evidence goes missing. Witnesses get murdered or intimidated to the point that they recant their statement.

A man who steals may get up to 10 years in prison. A man who rapes and murders however…pretty good chance he might just get a suspended sentence.

An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind but how are we to deter this type of behaviour if there aren’t harsher sentences for taking someone’s life?

Our children suffer the most. And this is where the cycle continues. Children are losing their parents to gangs, whether joining a gang or being killed by one. These children left to fend for themselves have few options, and so turn to a life of crime to sustain themselves. No education, no support, no guidance.

And the cycle continues.

We need help.

Why hasn’t the Western Cape been declared a disaster zone yet? Why aren’t more active steps being taken to protect the innocent?

Because…maybe we need to decrease our melatonin levels in order to receive some kind of assistance???

I pray that good people in these communities stand together and make their voices heard. Keep your children safe. Educate your children on the dangers around them. Speak to your sons. Show them there is a life outside of violence that is worth living. Invest as much time in your children as you can, try and safeguard them from the pitfalls of continuing the cycle.

It saddens me that our fallen brothers and sisters will only be remembered as their families speak of them fondly, but hopefully by the time their kids have children of their own, this senseless violence would have come to an end.

Save our people.

Save coloured people.

Save black people.

Save our children.

Protect our children.

Be the change.

Brent and Family

Cape Town 2017.06.22 Brent Kruger and his wife Renei on Mother’s Day this year with daughter Cassidy and niece Ava Cerf

 

 

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Why I no longer strive to be the perfect mother

We all know the story; boy meets girl, boy proposes, girl plans dream wedding, boy and girl love each other so much and decide to make a baby…

And that baby turns the girl’s entire life upside down.

Enter: Stress. Anxiety. Weight gain. Hair loss. Sleepless nights. Stretch marks. Criticism.

Exit: Sex life. Flaky friendships. Finances. Sexy clothing. High heels. Clean hair.

You see, society has led us to believe that women can have it all and do it all. And yes you can, but not all of the time, unless you want to have a nervous breakdown and end up seeing your family through glass at prison or the mental asylum.

We feel like failures.

If we can’t lose weight, or make our own homemade organic purees, and never give our kids sugar, or let them watch too much TV (how much is too much TV? *goes looking for scientific study*)

We see other moms at the school drop off, we see celeb moms ‘bouncing back’ 6weeks after giving birth, looking as glamourous as ever. And we feel like we’ve failed. More importantly, we wonder…’How does she do it?’ And, ‘If she can do it, then so should I.’

But the truth of the matter is, everyone has different circumstances. And I’m not just talking about your genetic capabilities to lose baby weight. What most mothers fail to realize is that everyone has varying levels of support and varying levels of finance.

*The slender mom standing in front of you at Woolworths may have more childcare in the form of willing grandparents, to facilitate her being able to go to gym once a day.

*The mom with the flawless make up may have a live in nanny or a retired grandparent living with them and so has more time to get ready in the morning.

*The mom who has her children on a strictly organic diet has the finances to purchase quality made food for her children.

*The mom with the perfectly highlighted hair has the extra time and money to go to the salon every week.

When you become a mom, it’s about time, and it’s about money. If you don’t have the time to do it, you can pay someone to do it for you. Some of us lack time, some of us lack money, and some of us lack both resources and so have to do everything ourselves.

But do we?

Enter: The husband.

Very often in the first year of marriage, the demise of the husband is plotted many a night by the wife. Husbands should really be more grateful for surviving the first year of parenting. If they only knew…

But besides delegating more tasks to your significant other, I feel that mothers need to let go of the elusive perfect mother noddy badge.

Our kids honestly don’t give a shit. And our husbands aren’t striving for the same level of perfection.

Your child doesn’t care where their veggies came from, they will spit them out all the same. Your child doesn’t care if their top matches their pants. Your child doesn’t care how many committees you are a part of or if you have read all the parenting books.

Your husband isn’t invested in much of this either. As long as the kid is fed and clean, your husband counts this as enough.

And so you run around all day, making mental notes of AAAAAAALL the things you have to do. And all the things you have to research, and make a second mental list of all the things you’ve failed at. But failed by whose standards? Only your own.

I used to be that mom. Having a cry in the bathroom because I had failed at yet another task. I used to be that silent mom that was always comparing myself to other moms.

And then one day…something dawned on me. None of this petty crap matters.

I remember this one particular day while taking my daughter for a walk to the shop (for ice cream). We got back home and I was exhausted. I planned to sit down and enjoy the ice cream with her and then get started on the cleaning.

And suddenly she reached over and give me the biggest bear hug ever.

‘What a nice adventure we had mommy.’ Those were her words.

A trip to the shop for milk, yoghurt, biscuits and ice cream was…an adventure.

When her father got home from work and asked her how her day was, she told him with such joy about our trip to the shops and how we picked flowers along the way and saw a bird.

As it turns out, I’m not a giant loser after all.

That day I learnt a valuable lesson.

I learnt what is important to children. And none of it was on my list.

I made a conscious decision that day to let go of perfection. And in its place I put HAPPINESS. Not only the happiness of my daughter, but my own happiness.

I’m not the perfect mother (I never was) but back then I was a mother consumed by anxiety and fatigue.

Does my child have a balanced diet? uhm..mostly. But do I also buy shut the fuck up snacks when I need peace? Yes I do. Because those five minutes make me a better mother.

Does my child watch too much TV? Probably. But has she learnt a lot from TV? Actually yes. And does the TV time give me time to do laundry and dishes and keep our house from turning into a cesspool for germs? Yes, yes it does.

When last have I read a parenting book? I honestly can’t remember. I do what feels right for me and my family, and my daughter’s personality. I don’t spank, I don’t do time out. I do explain her actions and the consequences, and occassionally withhold treats. Okay I bribe. Whatever.

Do I engage with my child every second of every day? No. Because for a long time I did and it was exhausting. And none of my housework was getting done. Contrary to my husband’s belief, there aren’t magical fairies who do the laundry. For a long time my daughter was clingy and couldn’t play on her own, so all the toys we bought were kinda useless. Gradually I took a step back, and while we are still in the same room, I’ve had to encourage her to entertain herself. Have a problem with this? Take a number and stand in line, coz I aint got the time.

I cannot hold myself to these impossible standards anymore. And I don’t see how it is healthy for a child to have a mother who is burning out on both ends to create a perfect world for said offspring when a perfect world doesn’t exist.

Since taking a step back I feel calmer. My house is a bit messier but my heart is lighter and everyone in getting along better in general.

I refuse to sweat the small stuff anymore. (Unless it involves my favourite chocolate being sold out or my eczema flaring up)

mom post

 

 

Someone almost walked off with all my stuff

Someone almost walked off with all my stuff…because I was raised to believe that what I had and what I was worth wasn’t much.

Someone almost walked off with all my stuff because I had no idea who I was and what my presence actually meant in the world.

Someone almost walked off with all my stuff because after years of abuse I had no voice to speak up and tell them not to steal what belonged to me.

Someone almost walked off with all my stuff and each time I stood there dumbstruck by how close they came to walking off with everything I tried so hard to protect.

Someone almost walked off with all my stuff because there I was…putting it on display like it was nothing but hoping and wishing that someone would recognize me for who and what I was.

Recovering from abuse is hard.

Trying to reclaim your life, your voice, your body, your mind, your soul.

Trying to rebuild everything that was torn apart and silenced and stuffed into a dark closet, never to be seen again.

Second guessing yourself around every corner. Second guessing the intentions of everyone around you.

Sometimes I sit here in shock and think ‘how did I allow this to happen?’ ‘How did I almost end up robbed of my entire being?’ ‘ How did I sit quietly while tiny pieces of my soul were ripped apart?’

Abuse doesn’t happen over night.

It happens quietly and slowly. Like a thief in the night, an abuser will tread softly and slowly while you sleep. While you’re dreaming peacefully, a plan is set in motion to slowly but surely crush you into tiny unrecognizable pieces. Pieces so small, you won’t even recognize them yourself.

Gerard* Almost walked off with all my stuff, because instead of speaking up for myself I continued to stay in that toxic relationship because I felt like I could get any better at the time.

Liam* almost walked off with all my stuff, because instead of asking him to cherish me, I sat there thinking I wasn’t worth being cherished. I never told him the truth. I just silently slipped away. Regrets…there are many.

Zachary* almost walked off with all my stuff, because I was so consumed by the ways that he cared that I didn’t notice all the ways he didn’t care.

It’s a miracle I even had any pieces left to rebuild.

But ultimately, I was sent out into the world with broken pieces of myself. Broken down year after year by my parents who felt like I was such a disappointment.

‘You’re not pretty enough’

‘You need to lose weight to get a husband’

‘You will never amount to anything’

‘You don’t have the right colour skin’

‘You don’t have the right hair’

‘You don’t belong’

 

When an evil person takes their time to abuse you, it is all too easy for someone else to come along and take their place because you’re down in the trenches, unaware that the war is over. And so you invite the evil in. Because that’s all you know.

But before I had a chance to submit to a life I thought I ‘deserved’…

I met an angel.

And he showed me that all my broken pieces were worth loving. He showed me that there is beauty in the wreckage that I am. But more than that he showed me that I don’t always have to be this wreck. I can be something beautiful.

I don’t see what he sees. Not yet.

But I can admire what I am from a far and think ‘hey, that’s okay’

They might’ve walked off with SOME of my stuff, but they didn’t get all of it, and what they took I didn’t need anyway.

Time to rebuild.

NINETEEN

We are 5months into the year and so much has happened. Justin Bieber came to town, water shortages in Cape Town have forced people to be creative with how they save and reuse water…the natural hair movement is growing in leaps and bounds and…what was the other thing???

Oh yes!

Nineteen children have been murdered in the Western Cape since January 2017.

Let that sink in.

Nineteen innocent souls, who didn’t ask to be here were murdered before they even got the chance to live.

You think abortion is wrong? Inhumane? Murder? Ah yes, let’s fight for the rights of the fetus. And yet no one is addressing the elephant in the room. Which is the fact that no effort has been put into keeping the children that are already here, safe.

So many children living in poverty. So many children being abused. Children living on the streets. Children starving. Children dying of preventable diseases. Children being sexually assaulted. And what has been done? What punishments do these perpetrators get if and when they are eventually apprehended?

Just in case you want to do that thing where you just read this and file it under ‘statistics’, let me break it down for you. Here are just a few of the stories, of ACTUAL HUMAN LIVES being ended in a brutal manner.

  • 4 year old Iyapha Yamile. Murdered.
  • 14 month old Lindokuhle Kota. Murdered.
  • 13 year old Rene Roman. Murdered.
  • 11 year old Stacha Arendse. Murdered.
  • 3 year old Courtney Pieters. Murdered.
  • 3 year old twins. Murdered.
  • 15 year old boy. Murdered.
  • 17 year old boy. Murdered.

These are not statistics. These are our people. Our children. And no one is doing a damn thing about it.

While the world is populated with a lot of sick individuals who prey on innocent souls as their victims…something needs to be said. Children do not operate independently. They cannot and should not be allowed to do certain things without adult supervision. And while there is such an outcry about how ‘unfair’ it is that ‘kids cant be kids’ anymore by playing in the street…the question that concerns me is…are parents not parents anymore?

I was born in 1985. To give you some context. Before all the kidnappings and murders and increased high-jacking’s and house burglaries. Can I recall a time where I was allowed anywhere without my parents? No. I cannot. If I stepped even a meter away from my father in a shopping mall I would feel his wrath. Did I think my parents were insane at the time? Yes. Do I think they are insane now? Hell no.

And before you comment on this post angrily and accuse me of being insensitive, I do not claim to know the individual circumstance of each family of these murdered children. I am not sitting on my soapbox pretending to be the perfect parent. My only question is, when will society step up in the masses and 1.understand that the world has changed and 2. Do something about it. There is power in numbers. The same people who helped search for Courtney Pieters could’ve offered the mother their help in looking after her. Surely the mom with no job could offer her assistance while the other working moms go to work? Surely we need to realize that parenting is a team effort. It takes a village remember?

But our villages do not listen. Our villages do not take heed. How many more innocent children need to die before people start being more vigilant? Instead of wanting the noisy kids to play outside while you enjoy some peace, go sit on the stoep and WATCH THEM.

10 yr old girl last seen walking to the shop….a mere two weeks after a 13 yr old went missing…

Why are parents gambling with their children’s lives.

While you sit and fight for your rights to the ‘good old days’ where children were safe outside, our children are dying.

While you blame the government…our children are dying.

Yes the government should impose harsher sentences for offenders but the onus is on you to protect your child BEFORE the crime occurs.

My heart aches for every parent who has to bury a child. My heart aches for the parent who has to read the results of the postmortem and accept the gruesome details of how their child died.

But my heart is also filled with rage.

My heart cries for the innocent souls who couldn’t protect themselves. My heart is enraged that our communities still haven’t woken up.

19 children is 19 too many.

And to place your trust in someone because they belong to a church or borrowed you money or gave you a packet of smokes…awareness is half of the solution. Murderers, rapists…they don’t LOOK evil. They blend in. They stand next to you in church, in Pick n Pay, at school, at work. They blend in and take advantage of your kindness, or offer their kindness and fool you.

While you can’t live in seclusion, you can protect yourself and your family. My daughter is 4 years old and every two weeks on rotation we have these chats:

  • No one must touch your privates. Not even your friends at school.
  • You mustn’t touch anyone else’s privates.
  • If someone asks to see your privates or show you their privates shout no and tell a grown up.
  • Don’t talk to strangers. Even if they offer you sweets. Only take sweets from mommy, daddy and granny. Because sweets from strangers can be poison.
  • Don’t keep secrets from mommy and daddy. There are good secrets such as surprises and birthdays and their are bad secrets. Never keep a bad secret.

It kills me that my child has to grow up before her time but I will be damned if my child becomes a statistic. I don’t say this to prove that I am the perfect parent. I say this because I have accepted the reality of this world. And I want to empower my child instead of falsely trying to shield her from the evil that has overcome humanity.

I stumbled across an article about a man who had killed his ex girlfriend…and in doing so discovered an entire blog called Counting the Women dedicated to documenting the slain women and children at the hands of not only strangers but their partners as well.

An entire blog…keeping record of murdered women and children…

I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

19 lives gone.

I hope that we can do something before the next 19.

The other kind of bad mom

Sometimes you read something and you feel as though it was specifically written for you. As an aspiring wordsmith, I often find myself having blog envy where I sit and think ‘Damn, I wish I had thought of this’ or ‘Wow I wish I could describe things so accurately’.

I stumbled across Finding Joy on Facebook and almost every single post speaks to me. The way Rachel describes the ‘ugly’ side of motherhood is refreshing and a huge relief to moms such as myself who feel as though we are drowning in all this perfect pintrest mom bullshit.

There’s one area of motherhood that she hasn’t addressed yet, and that is the evil and cruel mother. My guess was on point, she didn’t have the misfortune of having a bad mother. And no, I’m not talking about the mom that forgot to pack your favourite lunch, or the mom that gave you cereal for dinner because she was too tired to cook.

If you find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for me to drop the bomb then I’m pretty sure this post is for you.

  • Did you grow up wondering what you had done to piss your mom off?
  • Did you grow up living in fear of her anger?
  • Did you grow up with ‘tough love’? Being told to shake it off when you clearly needed medical attention?
  • Did you grow up with abnormal punishments such as the silent treatment for days on end, or withholding food or affection until she decided to let you back in?
  • As an adult, do you feel intense anxiety every time she calls or visits?
  • Do you mentally prepare yourself in order to interact with your mother?
  • Is your strained relationship with your mother a dirty secret that no one (even yourself) understands?
  • Have you cut ties with your mother?
  • Do you fear turning into your mother?
  • Did your mother’s passing bring you relief?

 

I am writing this post today to enlighten you about narcissist personality disorder, more specifically the way it relates to the mother daughter relationship.

I grew up knowing that my mother and our relationship was very different to other families I knew. I only discovered the term narcissist when I was 24 and it opened my eyes in so many ways and brought to my heart a huge sigh of relief.

I finally had answers.

I think that society has a very warped view of what narcissism is. We picture a man staring into a mirror admiring himself from every angle. And while that is part of it, that is not the sum of all parts.

Narcissists are selfish. They manipulate, they lie, they seek to control, they are only out for self gain.

The narcissistic mother is loved by all. In public she has a very very likable persona and she might even be involved in charity or social groups that endeavour to do good. Meanwhile back at home, her children (especially her daughter) lives in fear of the next punishment, insult and sometimes physical abuse.

My mother’s favourite weapon of choice is silent treatment. For those of you that aren’t aware of this punishment, it might seem harmless in comparison to physical abuse but it is in fact quite an effective form of abuse. Being 10 years old and ignored by my mother for weeks on end was very unsettling for me. She would only communicate with me if absolutely necessary and if we had company over. Needless to say we never had many visitors and the silent treatment kept me on my toes, waiting in despair for it to end.

Another firm favourite with her is gaslighting. Using gaslighting on a child is definitely one of the cruelest things you can do to break down their self-confidence and perception of the world and the people in it. For a long time I doubted EVERYTHING someone said to me, even if in passing. I was never quite sure if they were being sarcastic or if they were genuine. Gaslighting is one of the ways in which narcissists keep you under their control, because when you doubt yourself, you never confront the abuser. You stay on the emotional rollercoaster that is a web of lies and manipulation.

I have been no contact with my narcissistic mother for 7 years now…a choice that has kept me alive.  I did not consciously do this. At the time I had no idea what narcissism was, all I knew was that I had to get away for my own survival. My mother had missed my wedding (which she was almost invited to but cursed my marriage to end in divorce so hence…no invite) she has missed the birth of my daughter. She has missed 7 christmases, easters, mothers days and every other special moment inbetween. Because she cannot change. Because she doesn’t respect me. I am not her daughter, I am a person that was made to obey her at all costs, even my own happiness. And seeing as I do not obey her rules I am therefore not worthy of being treated in a loving way.

I am the scapegoat in my family. And it’s rough. I won’t lie. I can’t lie anymore. I have to speak my truth. For me and for everyone else that is living in shame with this dirty secret that society refuses to acknowledge even exists.

‘But she’s your mother!’

‘ I’m sure it wasn’t that bad!’

‘ I love my mom dearly and have no idea how you could do this.’

These are some of the remarks when people find out about my…situation. Society will not accept this. We accept the disappointment regarding the dead beat dad, but no one stands up to sympathize with those who have suffered abuse at the hands of their own mothers.

And this is why I have this blog. I am not an accomplished author. I do not have a wealth of information to share with the masses, I do not have a degree in psychology. But I have my story. And I have my truth. And I know what it feels like to live in the dark.

So if I can save one person from the inner torment that is a toxic narcissist mother then these random ramblings will be worth it.

I am not healed. I don’t think that anyone completely heals from the abuse that is caused by the one person on earth that is meant to love and protect you above all else. I have dark days. I have days where I doubt myself. I have days where I feel like giving up.

And then…I experience a moment of pure joy with my husband, or with my four year old, or with a friend. And I’m reminded that I do have a life. I do have things to look forward to. I do have people that rely on me to be who I am. I shut down that negative voice in my head and just live in the moment, not thinking about where I came from and what I came from.

I have found solace in accepting my truth. Accepting my life without a mother. I have found support in unexpected places such as narcissist support groups on Facebook, I have also stumbled into beautiful souls that share a similar story and these souls I am lucky to call friends. I have found books,such as Mean Mothers by Peg Streep that speak to the depths of my soul. I take each day as it comes,but now with the knowledge that I am NOT the problem.

If this sounds way too familiar…know that you are not alone. I am there with you and so are many of us who suffer in silence.

 

Things I wish my father knew…

If you haven’t been following my blog then have a look at my family situation before reading this post if you have time. If not, I’m sure you will catch up soon enough.

My father was hospitalized for something minor a few weeks back and this prompted loads of inner turmoil on my end. Unlike the situation with my mother I haven’t officially written off my father, but I never see him. Because he is so involved in his own life and taking care of my half brother which he made with a woman that is roughly the same age as me.

Yes. Sounds a bit like a far fetched dramatic soap opera but sadly it’s all true. Even the story about her slashing his tyres and burning his clothes.

After I ended the call with my gran and told my husband the story, he immediately asked if I wanted to go through to the hospital and honestly my gut answer was no.

My father has been a part of my life from the very beginning but essentially he is a stranger to me. Or actually, more accurately, I am a stranger to him. I didn’t turn out the way he expected and I’m pretty sure he is highly disappointed. I am not religious. I didn’t marry the man he expected me to. And I am not good for his public image.

My father is known in psychology textbooks as an ‘enabler‘.

I lived with an abusive mother and a father that enabled her to abuse me.

And yet my father does not see the part he played.

He not only enabled her bad behaviour but also enforced his own brand of abuse. Namely shaming on the basis of religion and gender stereotyping.

As long as I didn’t attend his church…I was going to hell.

As long as I was a daughter I would never have the same amount of respect that a son would automatically earn.

I am not able to have an honest adult conversation with my father, because everything always comes back to religion (which I am not against, but not involved in). But there are so many things I wish I could tell him, if only he would listen.

I wish he knew how I longed for him to take me away from my abusive mother. I wish he knew what a difference it would’ve made in my life to have someone in my corner. I wish he knew how hard it was for me when I finally realized that he too was part of the problem. I felt like an instant orphan in that moment. I wish he knew that there are many times I wish to talk to him honestly and open but every single time I do, I get shot down with a Bible verse and a back handed comment because owning up to the truth is just too much for him.

I wish my father knew the gravity of his actions. And while people (myself included) will argue that he is aware, a big part of me knows that he is so self involved that the abuse was a by-product of that and not the actual intention. I wish he knew how long I waited for him to change. I wish he knew how I PRAYED for him to change. I wish he knew how having BOTH your parents abuse you feels to a child.

I wish my father knew my daughter. She is the most amazing, soft hearted, funny and gentle soul. I wish my father could step outside his closed minded way of thinking for one second and see the child he helped create for who she really is.

I have had a deep raging anger towards my father for many years. At this point my defense mechanism is in over drive and to spare myself from any further heart ache…I feel nothing. But a longing for what could’ve been.

I wish I had a dad that knew what my favourite meal is. I wish I had a dad that knew I love to sing and dance when I’m home alone cleaning the house. I wish I had a dad that could sit around a fire and tell people warm funny stories about my youth. I wish I had a dad to call when times are rough and I just need someone to say “come over, I will take care of you”.

For the most part I get along fine without either parent, but the hard times and the dark times often bring out the sense of longing. And I envy my adult counterparts during this time. Wish I had a dad to call when I have an emergency…sadly not.

I wish my dad knew and understood that the minimal contact between us isn’t because I’m ‘punishing’ him or because I hate him. The silence is because I was neglected and abandoned and so learnt to live without him.

If your knee-jerk response is ‘why not call your dad?’ then you know nothing about paternal abuse. I know who my audience is. And my heart goes out to each and every one of you. You might feel alone but here is this blog to show you that there are others. And we are here, carrying the same silent burden that you are.

I share these words here because I know someone reading this can relate. I’m sharing this to put it out in the universe with the hope that some good will come of it.

I am not my hair. I am not this skin. I am the soul that lives within. 

First off,that is obviously not an original title. That is taken from the famous India Arie song,but it is just so fitting that I couldn’t help but use it to describe this post.

While I was sleeping a natural hair movement started taking root in South Africa and though I caught on very late I did participate albeit only for six weeks.

So just in case you didnt know,the South African apartheid regime initiated this horrible thing called the pencil test by which people of colour were divided by the sleekness or lack thereof of their hair. This was but one of the apartheid practices that sadly still divide our country and our people. People with ‘kroes’ hair are looked down upon and subsequently they spend hours straightening their locks.

While I understand that this must’ve been intense for the people in the apartheid era I dont exactly connect the dots in the year 2017. I was never subjected to a pencil test. But funny enough,the first people that made me conscious of my hair were my own parents. I wasn’t allowed to go out with ‘that bush’. My mother would bitch and moan every weekend while doing my hair,as if it were a battle to be won. When I started doing my own hair I was ill equipped,I wasn’t taught how and I didn’t have the right tools or products. When I was 19 I chemically straightened my hair for the first time. I thought it would wash out…it did not. I was mortified. Instead of curls I ended up with waves.

Then I moved out of my parents house and I was free. I was free to do what I wanted,with my clothes and my hair. And I chose to keep it straight most of the time. I then went on to marry a white man. The first person I dated ‘outside of my race’. And he wasn’t even really phased about this hair story. I sat every weekend with my rollers (hair curlers) as usual and when I went to bed I used either a scarf or a swirlkous. My husband is now familiar with the `limitations` my hair has and during winter he often makes jokes as he is running to the car screaming MY HAIR IS GOING TO MINCE,but its not meant in a derogatory way. He has dated white women with sleek straight hair and now he is married to me with not such straight hair and there are no issues. Every couple of weeks when I do wear my hair curly…and I complain about it..he always says he likes my hair curly,as if to say I don’t have to straighten it for him. But I don’t. I prefer my hair straight.

Curly hair vs straight hair

The ‘problem’ I have with the natural hair movement is that now I am a target. I’m seen as a conformer. But as a person who does not feel pressured by society to have straight hair,why does using my flat iron make me a ‘slave to society’ when it is my personal preference?

The other ‘problem’ I have is the grading system. Unbeknownst to me,they have names for the type of curls you have. And I fear that there are women aspiring to have curls that their heads will never grow no matter how much they twist and coil it,regardless of how long ago they threw their relaxers and flat irons away.

We all experience life on our own level of understanding. I have had so much shit happen to me that I honestly cannot sweat the small stuff. And in my opinion hair makes it on to the short stuff list. You do what makes you happy. There are so many women wearing make up,glueing false nails on their fingers,dyeing their hair,tinting their eyebrows and altering their appearances in some way or another.Some are doing it because of pressure and others do it because this is their preference.

I followed (at least attempted to) the natural hair movement for about 6weeks. And I stopped because I was tired. And broke. It actually costs a lot more to be natural. I bought flexi rods and new products. And then I had to find time to use all these new things. No more wake up and go,I had to actually spend time in the bathroom fluffing my bush just the way it wanted. My hair was weighed down and my ends were suffering. The naturals might argue that I needed to experiment with different products etc but honestly,I have had this hair for 31 years,I know what it wants. And it did not enjoy being constantly washed and fed products and being combed. I have now gone back to my usual ritual,which consists of a once a week wash and deep condition followed by an old school roller set and then a flat iron.

I am not completely anal about my hair. I wash and go when I don’t have time but I prefer having my hair straight because its low maintenance and effective. I don’t have to change my hair to suit anyone so I wear it in a style that suits me and only me.

So I admire the curly bushes on facebook,and I support the movement but I am not a follower. I only hope that this will continue to be a positive uprising. I sincerely hope that this isn’t yet another way to divide us. Respect someone else’s choice as they do yours above all.