Every New Year it’s the same thing with everyone – resolution after resolution. Every year we decide that this is the year we lose weight, we eat healthy, we stay positive, we remove toxic people from our lives, and we develop ourselves professionally. Most people are quite successful for the first few weeks of the New Year, others make it to February, but most of us fail within a month or just don’t bother at all.
Some years ago I stopped even thinking about resolutions. I have even stopped giving thought to making them. As I grow older I realise that resolutions are nothing but a bother to me; an unnecessary and usually unreasonable expectation that I force unto myself, and for the love of God above, I cannot figure out why I even bothered in the first place. The truth be told, resolutions often, if not always, consist of starting to do things I hate and stopping doing things that I love. So for 2017 I decided to make a real change…which I suppose is a resolution in itself, minus the pressure if I fail.
Instead of making a New Years’ Resolution List, I decided to make a ‘’Fcuk It’’ list! This is a list of things that I have decided to NOT do for the New Year, and the Fcuks I plan NOT to give!
- Accept disrespect
This can be a difficult one to understand and even remove from our lives, because we often think of disrespect in a very direct way: someone cursing at us; someone embarrassing us in public, etc. Disrespect, however, takes many forms. So, for me, I decided that 2017 was my year to stop allowing the disrespect in the more subtle forms. No longer am I going to allow anyone to assume my time. I can’t have plans made for me to do things for others on their time, with no respect for my time and my life. My time is my own, to do as I please, with whom I please. Disrespect only occurs when we allow it to occur. When people treat me as though I am not good enough for some things, but good enough to run errands, I will have to make the necessary adjustments. So for 2017, if I am not good enough to be part of the fun times, then don’t make plans for me to pick up your junk, do your dirty work, or accept the scraps of your tribe. I’m out, bitches!
- Need acceptance
I’ve always been somewhat…or quite a bit…of a non-conformist. I have never felt, seen or understood the value of fitting into a group, society, family or clique. While teamwork is an entirely different concept, I have no desire or inclination, in my personal life to be accepted by anyone. To make matters even more complicated, I have tattoos, a bitch face that offends, a teacher’s tone of voice even when I’m actually being nice, and a clear intolerance for people in general. I’m tired of trying to smile at random children who actually irritate me in the supermarket and other public places, or at people who are deliberately stupid as though it’s in style. Usually people accept you more easily when you conform to their idea of what you should be. I have decided that in 2017, if you can’t accept me as is, you need not accept me at all. I am not at the age of the possibility existing of drastic change. In fact, I am pretty comfortable with who I am, numerous faults included. My faults are cute to me and since beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, I really don’t need anyone else to appreciate my ‘cuteness’. So with the exit of 2016, though for me I think it may have actually been 2013, so too is the exiting of filling a mould. Like I have said many times before, moulds are for cakes.
- Smile through insults
Our parents have always told us that if we can’t say anything good, we shouldn’t say anything at all. Value in this took quite a long time to penetrate my psyche. I suppose I never saw the importance of that golden rule because of the brazen confidence of youth, perfect bodies and pretty faces. As my old ass approaches 42, and my body has decided to grow in its own direction, without my direction, I realise that there is never any need for people to be blatantly unkind to others. However, since one good turn deserves another, I will no longer be accepting the unwanted observations of unimportant people without the return of an equally discourteous observation about them. So the next time some scholar notices any weight gain, or doesn’t like my new hairstyle or comments on the difference in age between my husband and I, 2017 shall meet them with a relentlessly politically incorrect me. Usually the ones who notice your faults are blind from their own. So, if I am going to be insulted, my 2017 reaction to it is going to be less than accepting.
- Reduce my vices
Every New Year meets us feeling guilty about our vices, accompanied by promises to break them. Why? I quite enjoy my vices, which is why they ARE my vices. Coffee is a necessity on a morning, before I can even have a rational thought that is even applicable to life. It is also a necessity at least two more times during the day, since alcohol is not as yet allowed in the workplace, if I am to even function on a semi-normal level. And to be clear, I love coffee. I love it so much that I’d prefer to be caffeine deficient than have to lower my every standard and swallow instant coffee. Life is way too short for anything other than French-pressed Italian espresso. The other vice I intend to NOT eliminate or even reduce, is my love for, as well as my consumption of alcohol. I am not an alcoholic (as all alcoholics say), because I don’t NEED prosecco; I just LOVE prosecco and yes, there is a difference. Prosecco makes me happy; it makes me tolerant and tolerable. I can’t understand why we must cut out the things that we love the most. Isn’t life just way too short and unpredictable to not eat the cake? To not buy the shoes? To not drink the prosecco?
- Stop dropping the ‘F’ bomb
The extent to which people’s sensibilities are so offended by curse words, has become ludicrous, if not comedic. I think they are offended by these words because they believe that they should be; good people are not supposed to like curse words; intelligent people don’t need to use curse words to express themselves. Don’t get me wrong – I do take time and place into consideration for all that I do. I obviously won’t curse in front of a class, around children, in the presence of my in-laws – all for the same reason: respect. But seriously, I curse and I really don’t care. There are so many worse things I could do – like kill, scheme, cheat, lie, be cruel to animals! But if I just like to drop an ‘F’ bomb or two in every conversation. Wtf is really the problem?
- Feel guilty
This is a pretty big one! Family especially does a great job at guilting you into doing things that you really have no interest in, no time for and really just don’t want to do. I’m pretty much done with it. I am no longer going to be dancing to anyone’s music a minute before they need me to help with something or someone, on the ridiculous assumption that I MUST have the time because I don’t have children. Neither am I going to be guilted into cooking, running errands, dropping or picking up anything or anyone, if it isn’t convenient to me and not ASKED of me in a considerate amount of time in advance of the favour. Respect my time. Respect my life. Respect me. ‘No’ is a perfectly acceptable answer. People finding me to be rude because I opt for that answer, simply have an inflated sense of self, and believe that they are entitled to me submitting and committing to them in ways that aren’t convenient to me. In 2017, guilt has been put out of this house and got its ass kicked to the curb.
- Grow old
I have just pretty much decided that growing old just isn’t for me. What does that even mean? Growing old? Growing up? It is quite overrated if you ask me. Responsibility is a part of life regardless of age or status. I don’t see why I need to grow old and fit a mould of what people in their 40’s should be or should do. For example, the amount of times I have heard that I am too old to be enjoying social media as much I do. But why? I am technological – in my job, in my personal life. So why should I not be keeping up with technology, while having a job in which teenagers are everything? So old folks like me should just sip some tea, take their calcium and not understand how a computer works. We should not dress trendy, sexy or risqué in any way. We should not dance until the sun comes up. Well! These limitations do not work well for me. While my girls stand straight without the sag, I intend to enjoy any bloody-hell low cut top that I want. Not only will I dance until the sun comes up, but I will do it on a table, if I so desire. Age isn’t a number; it’s a state of mind, a mentality, a hindrance. I will live and dance and drink and love until the day I die, because life has no meaning if we stop living while our hearts are still beating.
- Save useless relationships
I have often compromised myself in order to avoid confrontation in relationships. I have often turned a blind eye to disloyalty, dishonesty and destructive behaviour in order to save a relationship, whether it was a platonic, familial or romantic one. The only result was me always feeling disgusted with myself and others for remaining part of a toxic relationship. Family and friends who truly love you and care about you, would not have you accepting their poor behaviour and sacrificing parts of you, just to have you keep them in your life. These types of relationships are truly useless. They serve no purpose other than to suck the joy and life out of you. In 2017, I will work on the relationships that are worth it, with the people who work on their relationships with me. Everyone else can go toxify themselves elsewhere.
- Stop dancing
No, I am not too old to dance. I am not too old to be a dance teacher. I am not too old to dance on tables. For so long, dance and dancing have been silently associated with children, whores and the shameless. I’m none of those…well at least not the first two anyway. Every time my husband and I travel, we somehow end up somewhere, in some bar or restaurant or club, in which they play our local music. For anyone who knows me, I cannot hear ‘soca’ music without ‘bussin a wine’. So yes, when I get called out in Mango’s Tropical Café in SOBE, or in Café del Mar in Ft. Lauderdale Beach, I will dance! In front of everyone, I will represent my country, my music and just be me. So my answer is no – I do not feel shame to just get up and dance. I am a dancer, I am a dance teacher….I mean, seriously, have you met me?
I just can’t do it anymore. I can no longer worry about what might happen with my health as I get older. I can no longer worry about how my life may look to others. I can no longer worry about useless relationships. I can no longer worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to come whether I am here to celebrate it or not. Tomorrow will bring its new joys and its new sorrows, regardless of how I spend today. So, in 2017, worrying will not get the better of me. Tomorrow will come until it doesn’t, and I will deal with it however I need to. Until there is something to worry about, I’ll just sip my hot, rich, French-pressed Italian coffee, guzzle my fresh, bubbly, extra-dry prosecco, dance like there are no worries in this world and just live my life. Shit happens regardless.
- Feel ashamed of what my body looks like
Oh mother hell! I’m almost 42. I only exercise when I feel like it. I juice my vegetables and then eat fried chicken. I don’t work out like a mofo and I refuse to starve myself into skinny! That’s for people who still need to impress others and receive their validation accordingly. Don’t get me wrong…I think exercising regularly and eating healthy is great, but only when it’s for the right reasons. Validation and recognition can never be some of them. I have cellulite, granted, not as much as I should have at 41. I have wrinkles around my eyes, probably because I spend so much time laughing with (and sometimes at) my husband. I have lines on the sides of my mouth, probably from the constant smile he has on my face. I will no longer entertain a navel breaker or a micro mini. But that’s ok! After one time is another. I enjoyed my twenties, maybe a bit too much. I was even able to dress as I wanted way into my 30s! What more could I ask for? So now, I wear what’s comfortable and I accentuate that which has not as yet started to sag or wrinkle. I’m ok with my highly imperfect body, because this ‘temple’ of imperfections still allows me to dance every single day and share that joy with my students. So I’m good…tattoos, sag, wrinkles and stretch marks alike.
- Be impressed with people’s perfect pictures
Seriously parents! Just before you finally got that perfect picture of your little angel smiling just right, he or she was eating his snot, digging his ass, or peeing his pants! You post away and I will continue to hit that ‘like’ button, but don’t be fooled into thinking that we don’t all know the reality of parenthood. As for the pictures of the non-models putting VS models to shame with their posing techniques, feigning aloofness and unawareness of the orchestrated photographer…gosh you do look great, but at the expense of some poor husband who has no choice but to feed your ego and take only 15 shots before you find the perfect one that will project the image that you so desperately NEED to project so that you can be validated by people you don’t know and by those who don’t matter. I’m no model and I don’t know how to stand to look sexy, cool or slim. My husband takes THE WORST pictures, because he only believes in ‘candid’. Like, wtf! I will always look like a crow if he’s taking the pic, which is how I know how many snaps it takes to get a perfect one, or in my case a semi-decent one. So this year, I will like the crap out of your posts and pics but you ain’t fooling me!
- Need an HGTV home
Yeah, I’m not the best homemaker. I’m uncreative, and very likely unambitious when it comes to having a picture perfect house. My home is my haven. It is where I need to just relax and be me. It’s clean and organised but the buck pretty much stops there. Ornaments are the devil’s gifts and dusting is the lifelong punishment for having them in your house. I like simple and uncluttered and I absolutely love convenient. So our TV snacks are kept in the living-room ottomans; we have a completely separate beer and prosecco fridge that’s usually fuller than the food fridge. The treadmill is in front of the TV, because there is NO WAY I can exercise without watching one of my shows. Our second bedroom has been converted into a ridiculously well-equipped gym, which I actually use. There is no TV in the bedroom, because we take our night sleep very seriously. Every single room is air conditioned because i feel hot all the time. I hate to decorate for Christmas, because it is such a bore to put up and take down a tree. The only two clocks in the house, reflect dance, coffee and alcohol. I do not make up my bed on mornings, because when I get home after work, an afternoon nap is a high likelihood. We have no children to entertain and dazzle with Christmas trees and gifts, and we don’t allow people who intend to judge us, into our home.
- Publicise charity
Public charity is always easy, and I suppose fulfilling in many ways. It has its value, I am assuming, in group and team work, pooled resources and maximising of time and effort. However, there seems to be a movement and mentality that has surfaced, especially in this age of social media, where all charitable offerings and activities are shared with the world. It isn’t something I understand or necessarily subscribe to. While I would never bash any form of helping others, I am highly irritated by people who feel the need to TELL me that they are going to feed the starving, help the poor, clothe the downtrodden and house the homeless. Do your thing! Why must you make that the sole topic of your conversations with others? Is it that you need the validation or recognition or reverence? Or maybe you think that if I knew about your ‘selflessness’ that I would be so inclined to follow in your footsteps. However, that would then be your inflated ego assuming that I don’t do anything to help others. Well I’m not the oak up which you should bark. I do not ever feel the need to let anyone, and I mean anyone, know what I do to help others. In fact, no one except my husband even knows what we do. It doesn’t mean that our hearts are in a righter place than anyone else’s but we simply do not NEED anything in return, especially attention. People who must always tell me about all the good that they do, don’t impress me; they worry me. I worry that your hearts are in a place of doing, so that others can see. Karma is real. If you do it for the wrong reasons, that shit comes back to bite you in your ass. For 2017, and way before, this boastful mentality has turned me off tremendously and disgusts me when that is the only thing about which you can converse. So this year, my response to your boasting is simply, ‘Yeah ok’. Charity is the way you live your life and the way you treat others everyday, not just when there is a reverent audience.
15. Allowing last minute demands of myself
While this was touched upon in previous points, I feel that it needs to be re-iterated and expanded upon, all by itself. I think people believe that because I have no children that my time is more available than theirs; or because my work day ends at 2:15 p.m., that I have more free time that others. But what needs to be clearly understood, is that being childless is a choice; being a teacher is a choice; having a husband who helps with all that needs to be done at home is a choice in partner. While my choices have allowed me certain comforts, it must be understood that they are still MY choices. They are not up for discussion or assumption. So when people continue to assume that they can call me for favours at the umpteenth hour, I will have no choice but to say ‘no’. I almost always have plans; whether with my husband or whether by myself. I value my time alone and even more so, our time together. I will not upheave my plans for anyone who didn’t have enough respect for my time, in the first place. Most times, the very people who don’t respect my time, know very well that they cannot do that to others or to their own people. That in itself sends a very clear message to me. I have no problem assisting family and friends whenever I can, on the condition that I am given ample notice to check my plans and choose if I want to adjust them accordingly. But you cannot expect me to give a care in the world about what YOU need from me, when I am not important enough to you, to be respected. So toodles to you and your assumptions of my time. Not this year!
16. Allow anyone to mistreat those I love
While I am quite aware that I am neither Superman or Wonder Woman, and I can’t stop people from treating others badly, I can control my interaction with them and limit it to the absolute necessary. In 2017, out the door goes any respect I used to or would have had for people who are exhibiting a blatant disrespect for the people I love. So, you treat my grandmother as though she is a second class citizen, who is supposed to be a punching bag for insults, you can fcuk yourself out of my life. You treat her as though she must bear the burden of your incessant complaints about me, you can fcuk yourself out of my life. Man the hell up and deal with ME if you have a problem with me. She is 85 years old. She has NO control over me, so attacking her will never get you what you want, except a very special place in hell. If you treat my parents as though they are there to serve you, you can fcuk yourself out of my life. Be clear, any courtesies they extend is out of the purity of their hearts and not to be taken advantage of. They can continue to do as they please and I will always respect them and their choices, but I will see people for who they really are in 2017. As for my husband! Well!!!! The buck stops there! I will not only allow you to fcuk yourself out of my life, but I will do it for you. He is an amazing, loving and generous man with no ill feelings or ill intentions towards others. So when people decide to speak ill of him and assume I don’t know what is being said, all hell will and has already broken loose. I will not be tolerating anyone to speak of him or treat him as though he is some sort of nuisance. The most ignorant parts of my soul will surface and I am happy to sin my soul for him! So in 2017, please be aware that I know more than you think I do. My husband is off limits!
17. Stop boasting about my husband
We love to talk about our failed relationships and blacken the names of friends and spouses who have wronged us in some way. It is so easy and entertaining to make horrible people look bad. We take pleasure in portraying ourselves as the victims at the hands of others. So if I think that my husband is the most amazing man I have ever met, I don’t see why I can’t shout it from the roof top! He does everything in his power to make my life easier, happier and less stressful. He is attentive and thoughtful, hardworking and dedicated to our life together. He is incredibly accepting of all of my faults, having very few himself. He is considerate and accommodating to who I am, who I truly am. He doesn’t just allow me to be me and and to do the things I love, but he encourages it. He has made my happiness and comfort his priority and treats me as though I can do no wrong. He loves the people that I love, because they are my people. His commitment to us has been resounding. So, if I want to post on social media about him, and post pictures of all that we do, it isn’t to show off, or to make anyone feel bad. It is to revere him, because I know how much he deserves it. So in 2017, the people who feel the need to ask me if I must post everything we do, and ask me if I don’t feel like I am embarrassing him, please think twice. He is perfectly happy with my posts and I am perfectly happy with him.
So these are the Fcuks that will not be given in 2017. I shall continue to live carefree, think happy thoughts, forgive endlessly and love completely. Cheers to good health, acceptance and lots of prosecco!
Happy New Year!!
Haughtiness is that ugly emotion you feel when you truly, with everything ungodly inside of you, believe that you are OWED an explanation for someone else’s life, choices and decisions.
Haughtiness is that arrogant quality of feeling superior to others. It prevents you from being able to be truly happy for someone else’s happiness.
Haughtiness leads you to abandon all that you are supposed to know to be good and loving in this world, while it easily allows you to plunge into the abyss of envy.
Haughtiness is that unconscious ugliness that allows you to actually believe that you are humble and of God.
The truth is that God doesn’t like haughty.
God doesn’t like ugly.
God doesn’t like envy.
At the rate at which you are slipping down the steep slope from your self constructed pedestal, and feel angry, offended and entitled to an explanation for my life, you need to be more concerned about if God likes you.
You know what they say about being closer to the church…
Almost every religion teaches that we should treat others the way we would like to be treated, with slight nuances in the wording. We all know the difference between right and wrong, and for the most part, we all understand feelings of compassion, empathy, sympathy and regret.
‘Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you’ is a lesson that I have been guilty of not following on more than one occasion, and for many justified reasons – reasons that I have chosen to justify.
It is always so easy to post on social media about our accomplishments, good deeds and intentions. It is far harder to post about all the ways we went wrong, did wrong and, made situations worse and all the ways we were hurtful to others.
When we feel that we have been trespassed against, reactionary hate seems acceptable at the time. Sometimes that hate takes various forms – calls, texts, gossip, lies, social media rants, and really the list goes on. But is it really ok? We all understand and accept that two wrongs don’t make a right, until we feel the pain of betrayal, wrongdoing, accusations, and malicious rumours. Then somehow, that rule no longer applies to us.
There are some transgressions that are harder to move pass than others.
For example, where I have tried to forgive my ex-husband for all that I felt he had done, understanding that it takes two to make a marriage work, I will still have no desire for a friendship with him, or a conversation for that matter. His transgressions were consistently repeated, deliberate and well calculated for over a decade, and sadly continues years after our precious divorce.
But there are other types of hurt that are less intentional because the truth is…life is messy. Nothing is perfect. None of us are perfect. We make mistakes. And most of all, in retrospect, we could ALWAYS have handled things better than we did. Whether we actually care to admit it or not, it’s still true. Sometimes people hurt you, and don’t intend to. Sometimes they know that their actions might, but they proceed and hope for the best.
Forgiveness, however, does not mean amnesia. We do not and should not forget what was done to us, especially when it was repetitious and deliberate. Likewise, talking about it, writing about it and sharing it, does not mean that we are not over it or that we have not forgiven. People share, or don’t, for different reasons. My reasons for sharing have been expressed in another post.
Sharing our experiences is one of the only ways that we can help others, so that they understand and believe that they are not alone in their trials. It give them hope that this too shall pass. Sharing our experiences, good and bad ones, isn’t brave but it is a choice; a choice that should not be made lightly. Sharing ourselves is a big step in teaching and in learning and in reflecting. Sharing also holds you accountable to all that you say and do, thereafter.
Bad things happen to good people and to bad people. Bad things can also happen for good reasons. Things may never be the same afterwards, and that’s ok. But at least, we are finally mature enough to do what needs to be done…accept, understand, forgive.
There is a freedom in forgiveness and a peace in leaving anger behind that cannot be compared to any other form of happiness….except maybe in shopping.
There are so many things I wish I could tell you, if you were still here with us. I can’t believe sometimes that it’s been more than two years that you left us. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about you; what you’d say to me; what corny joke you’d make that we’d pretend to find funny; what new fact you would share from something you read; what new recipe you’d find online and casually mention to me in the hope that I’d make it.
I accept that you can’t be here anymore but there are so many things I wish you could know, things I wish I could tell you, things I don’t know if you’d know where you are now.
I’d want you to know that the day I felt my heart break was that day in March 2013 when you fell for the first time and couldn’t get yourself up. To see you helpless, silent, and unable to explain to us what was happening, is a day I wish I could forget. You were always the one to get things done, and then, there you were, on the ground, not able to speak or move. You just watched us, helpless and hopeless, and we didn’t know what to do to help you. That was the day my heart broke, because I knew that it was truly the beginning of the end, and that we would have no control in all that was about to unfold.
I wish that you were more cognisant when I got my divorce in May 2013, so that you could tell me that you were proud of me for leaving and happy for all that would lie ahead. I knew it was what you wanted for me, and I am glad you were alive to see it happen. I wish I could tell you that I was sorry that you had to see me go through that and I wish I could thank you for being the haven I need to run to when I left him.
I wish I could have told you that Oz was born – your first, and from all indications, your only great grandchild. Just two days before you left us, he came to us. It feel as though you waited that little extra time just to make sure he journeyed safely to us. You stayed, I want to believe, to make sure he and his mummy were both ok. I always hoped that your two souls passed each other on the way in and on the way out, and that for that split second you could know all the joy that he is. I wish I could tell you that his mummy is a brilliant one, doing a bang-up job with him, because he is happy, bright, inquisitive and he makes us all smile…just like you did.
I wish I could tell you that I finally see what you meant when you said that religion was how we lived our lives. I understand now how important it is to help others whenever I can…with no hope of gaining anything in return. I understand now that going to church or temple or mosque, is less important than how we treat others…those in our lives and those who are not.
I wish I could tell you that I met the most amazing man. He loves me the way you did, unconditionally. He came to me to save me, I believe, whether from myself or others. I think you hand picked him and sent him to me because he came just at the right time, when I was ready to love again. He protects me, cares for me and loves me like only you did. He spoils me rotten…beyond rotten and allows me to get away with murder, just as you did. He can do any and everything, just like you did. He hates sports, just like you did. And he loves CNN, just like you did. I told him all about you and all that you taught me, and all of the ways you shaped me into who I am. I only wish I could tell you about him, and how he has changed my life forever. You’d be pleased with this one Grandpa.
I wish I could tell you that all the things you have taught me through your example, all finally came together for me. It took a while, and it wasn’t until close to turning 40, but I got the lessons. I wish I could tell you that I understand the value of silence and letting things be. You epitomised this and I never understood it until now. I wish I could tell you that I understand the value in treating people with respect, regardless of what they do me. I didn’t like that very much about you, until I finally understood it. I wish I could tell you that I now feel and see the value of family, while maintaining that family isn’t just your blood. I wish I could tell you that I understand the value of grace…the grace you taught me.
I wish more than anything that I could tell you thank you. Thank you for teaching me all that you did. Thank you for loving me the way you did, so that I could finally understand that accepting less than that, was no longer an option. Thank you for our family and all that you did for us without ever knowing it.
I miss you every single day….
This is one blog that will start with the declaration and disclaimer that I am not a Psychologist. I base nothing I say here on scientific facts that I have tested and proven. I am simply a woman who has had quite a bit of experience with women – all types of women. So this is just my exploration and exposition of what I have learnt, through observation of and experience with my gender, inclusive of myself, in the past forty years.
I have learnt that women are controlling…but don’t dare tell us that.
If it is one thing women will tell you that they hate and resent, it is to be called controlling. It truly eats away at our core and is a sure-fire way to unnerve us in one single blow. The back of our eyes are on fire, the veins in our necks feel as though they will burst and a thousand responses come to mind in a huge jumble, but little can actually come out. The anger at being called controlling is in a category by itself.
Now don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with wanting the best for our children, families, friends; or wanting to perform optimally at work. In fact, I believe that most people have OCD tendencies in certain areas. I do. I won’t eat my meal if my food touches. I am highly trypophobic. I prefer to eat every meal with a knife and fork. The list goes on. Being controlling of yourself is one matter – I believe that we are entitled to be who we are, regardless of its supposed absurdity. However, when we start to want to change and control the behaviour and tendencies of others, it will be deemed as controlling, no matter how prettily we justify it.
Being controlling can be just as damaging to a relationship as adultery. It erodes a relationship from within and promotes a feeling of condemnation, emasculation and defeminisation, loss of trust. Moreover, it encourages lying and hiding, for fear of an argument ensuing, if one person does something of which the other one would have disapproved. Sadly, being controlling seems an inherent part of our nature as women, and vary in intensity among us.
Controlling behaviour can often reach the point of telling your partner what he should wear; taking out his clothes and laying it out on the bed; demanding that certain outfits, jackets, jerseys etc. not be worn with you. This control way surpasses wanting what is best for your partner, your equal. It reaches the point of dictatorship. This genre of control can take the form of convincing you that you are helping him to be better, look better, and feel better. But what you are doing is sending the message to your partner, that he isn’t good enough, smart enough, and capable enough to dress himself. So, as a result, you need to dress a grown man.
Control also rears its ugly head in the families into which we marry. Many women believe that as they take on that spanking new last name, that it entitles them to a whole new barrage of opinions and dictations about their in-laws. When I say ‘in-laws’ I do not only mean their husband’s parents, but their siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins, as well. I believe that we need to be very cognisant of our roles in our newly conjoined families. As an in-law, we do not automatically have rights and control that we think, or should think. A woman’s role in her husband’s family is to support her husband in his decisions and relations with them; not to dictate what those relations should be. Marrying into a family can put you in a very precious or precarious position – it’s all a matter of choice.
I know someone who has used her husband’s love for her, and his willingness not to displease her, against him. She was single-handedly able to turn him against a family member, because she didn’t approve of the person’s choices. She proceeded to involve herself in related matters in his family, speaking one-on-one to other family members, in an attempt to sway their opinions as well. Therefore, the role she took in that family is one of being divisive, destructive, dangerous. Regardless of our personal and sometimes self-righteous opinions, it is our duty to do all that we can to keep our husbands family intact, and as close, if not closer, than when we met them. Even if this means swallowing some pride (which, by the way, never choked anyone to death), turning a blind eye to what does not directly concern us or at least, ensure we are not the reason for any dissension. Ironically, in that same family, another in-law did the opposite. She used her influence on her husband to ensure that he understood that emotions make fly high for a while, but family is family. She encouraged relations that entailed no cutting of ties, drama or discord. She decided to take on a completely different role.
Control in a life-partner’s family can become dangerous, especially when it comes to a man’s relationship with his parents. Unfortunately, controlling women in such scenarios are unable to see a parallel, should the same occur in their families; or worse than that, they find a way to justify it quite differently. It is hard, very hard when your partner’s parents don’t like you or don’t approve of your union and to some degree, I believe everyone can relate to this. The hurt is raw and there is always a need to feel that your partner should defend you and stand up for you. That does not seem too unreasonable. What becomes unreasonable is when we dictate HOW he should stand up for us and when we tell him that he should have nothing to do with them until they respect his choices. Standing up for you is quite different from ending relations with one’s parents, temporariness and ‘all for the better good’, aside. If a man decides this on his own, that is his decision and not one that I would personally support in such a situation. But demanding it, threatening that it has to happen is also a dangerous level of control. It is just as ludicrous as telling him exactly what to say to his family in their family matters. Advising and suggesting should be just that. They should not be manipulative tools used in control. Manipulation is the most deceitful form of control.
Control then has a flip side. It can be the result of being controlled. I have noticed that when women have lost all semblance of control at home, with no voice in their marriages, that they need to exert control somewhere, somehow. Sometimes this ‘lashing out’ can occur in various forms in the workplace. Women who are controlled at home by a situation over which they have no control, tend to need a victim to bully. Someone who represents all that they are losing; or someone who represents all that they want and cannot achieve because of their current circumstance. Other times they are desperate for recognition and validation in the workplace and will do anything and trample over anyone to achieve a position or promotion, so that something in them is fulfilled and they feel in control of something. I usually stay far from these women. I know what it is like to go through a terrible divorce and feel as though your world is crumbling around you in a whirlwind and you have control over nothing but your bowels. So I try to empathise and remember how hard it is, and I let these women be. We have to heal ourselves. But first we have to recognise.
Controlling men with whom we are in relationships is my favourite topic of control. Its predictability and genericness make it quite entertaining to me. These are the women for which I pathologically cannot feel sympathy or empathy. From the beginning of time we have known and witnessed first and second hand that we cannot change men, yet we somehow think that our relationship is different and he can and will spontaneously combust and turn into all that we wanted him to be.
The control here is frightening. The worst form of control that a woman can exert on a man is getting herself pregnant in order to keep him. Ladies, if he isn’t stepping up to the plate and committing or giving you what you need from the relationship, the universe can assure you that trapping him into fatherhood, isn’t going to get you what you desire either. What it will do is trap yourself into a resentful relationship with someone who will and should never trust you. This control move is also an extremely selfish and desperate one. You have completely taken away his right to choose the path he wants HIS life to take. Should a man try to control us in an even lesser way, our girlfriends would not just be up in arms, but nag you to leave him, forthwith! Yet, if our friend traps her boyfriend or husband (and yes, you can trap a husband into unwanted fatherhood), into parenthood, we pacify her that he gave her no choice.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve been there. Making all the wrong decisions, unaware that one of the reasons my relationships weren’t working was because I was trying to control its path. Open communication is essential for a healthy relationship. But if you air your concerns once, twice, three times and he shows no interest in compromising, what do you think trying to control him, give him ultimatums would do? I learnt that answer the hard way. You cannot make a man love you, threaten him into taking you out, bargain with him to treat you better or beg him to give more. If love, respect and compromise don’t happen spontaneously or with as little prodding as possible, the problem is no longer him. It’s you. You need to make a decision – fish or cut bait. You need to stop vacillating, either decide to stay and accept it or leave.
What I have learnt in the past forty years is that control damages relationships, all relationships. It has no place in the same arena with love and respect. It is an opposing entity, one that is destructive and divisive. If we don’t want to be called ‘controlling’ then we need to stop trying to control everything and everyone around us. Some years ago, I let go. Mostly because I was going through so much at the time that I couldn’t keep all the balls in the air. For my mental health, I had to rearrange my life, my priorities, my purpose. I had to start from the beginning because I was at rock bottom and didn’t see a light to work towards. In finding myself, I re-defined as well. I realised, in the process, that many things that I thought were important for my sense of importance were actually fickle and insubstantial. I learnt that I had control over me, but it wasn’t a control that I was willing to relinquish to anyone. Therefore, in the same way, I could not try to take away someone else’s control. Who I am and who I have become has been a hard road travelled and now I treat important relationships carefully, with a little more and sometimes a lot more patience and understanding.
I always resent when relatives and friends ask me why I allow my husband to grow his beard so long. It’s his face, his beard, his appearance, his choice – none of which affects why I love him. I love his beard because I know he loves his beard – it is how he feels comfortable. And I am comfortable with the man that he is. Even with sillier matters, like when my brother-in-law would ask me to ask my husband to let him work the next day instead of them both being there, and he asks me to just use my influence. My answer is always the same: I tell him to work it out with his brother because it had nothing to do with me.
I am not an extremist and if I find my husband is being impatient or hard on my brother-in-law, or in any other family matter, I try to get him to calm down, relax. Think about it more clearly when he’s less upset. I remind him that this feeling is temporary but they’ll always be family and whatever you say and do today…there is always a tomorrow in which you feel differently. His final decisions are his because he is his own person, bad decisions and all. We all are. But controlling him is not an option. Maybe it is as a result of me being non-controlling and non-nagging, he encourages me to be all that I want to…blogger and all, even when it’s a topic he isn’t comfortable with. He encourages me to be me, accepts me for being me and I try to do the same. He’s a little bit nagging, always feeling the need to tell me the same thing at least three times, but I can’t control him. So since that’s my biggest problem in the world with him, I decided to fish rather than cut bait.
I was preparing to speak at an I Can Do It conference and I decided to bring an orange on stage with me as a prop for my lecture. I opened a conversation with a bright young fellow of about twelve who was sitting in the front row.
“If I were to squeeze this orange as hard as I could, what would come out?” I asked him.
He looked at me like I was a little crazy and said, “Juice, of course.”
“Do you think apple juice could come out of it?”
“No!” he laughed.
“What about grapefruit juice?”
“What would come out of it?”
“Orange juice, of course.”
“Why? Why when you squeeze an orange does orange juice come out?”
He may have been getting a little exasperated with me at this point.
“Well, it’s an orange and that’s what’s inside.”
I nodded. “Let’s assume that this orange isn’t an orange, but it’s you. And someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, says something you don’t like, offends you. And out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, fear. Why? The answer, as our young friend has told us, is because that’s what’s inside.”
It’s one of the great lessons of life. What comes out when life squeezes you? When someone hurts or offends you? If anger, pain and fear come out of you, it’s because that’s what’s inside. It doesn’t matter who does the squeezing—your mother, your brother, your children, your boss, the government. If someone says something about you that you don’t like, what comes out of you is what’s inside. And what’s inside is up to you, it’s your choice.
When someone puts the pressure on you and out of you comes anything other than love, it’s because that’s what you’ve allowed to be inside. Once you take away all those negative things you don’t want in your life and replace them with love, you’ll find yourself living a highly functioning life.
Thanks, my young friend, and here’s an orange for you!