Forgive in order to heal?

For most of my adult life I’ve been told to forgive SO THAT I can heal. I have tried it time and time again. Whenever I feel that someone has hurt or betrayed me, I would try very hard to forgive, so that I can heal and move past it. What always bothered me was WHY I had to TRY to forgive…why was it such an effort, why didn’t it come more easily? So then I would just make the conviction that I have forgiven and moved forward, only for those feelings of hurt and betrayal to resurface.

I thought I was healed, what happened?

 

Then I realised that, for me, I had to heal first before I could forgive effortlessly. It was only then that the forgiveness came willingly and without reproach. Healing, though, is just as difficult to will. I realised, the hard way and after many failed attempts, that healing had to occur on its own time, in time. For me, I had to just be still and let it be. When feelings of resentment and hurt surfaced, I had to breathe through it and try to release it from that moment. After many, many moments like that and a whole lot of time, healing eventually occurred, on its own time. After that, I realised that forgiveness also occurred on its own, without me even being an active part of that process.

So what I learnt about myself is that healing and release have to occur within me before I could forgive for all the right reasons, not just because God said I should, or because I am supposed to, but because I can.

 

Vaneeta

Change by choice. Change by ultimatum.

When the people closest to us do NOT change to cater to our needs, wants and insecurities, we often and categorically say that people can’t change, that they don’t, that a leopard never changes its spots.
People change for the right reasons – their reasons. To expect someone to change because we need them to, is unreasonable and unfair. People change because they WANT to, not because they are being FORCED to.

 

All we can do is explain how someone’s actions affect us, understanding that ours affect them as well. If someone makes changes because of an empathy and understanding then it means they are changing because they want to.
We often expect others to change, with no intention of making changes in ourselves, since we always prefer to believe that the problems we encounter are the faults of others.
So I realised that people do change and they can, but they do so if and when they want to. I also realised that change because of free-will is more appreciative than change because of an ultimatum.

 

Vaneeta

Not everyone we lose is a loss

People have entered my life for spurts of time….some spurts lasting much longer than others, and some entering repeatedly. I have come to realise that people enter my life for a reason and thus a season. I never understood it in my younger days but in the past few years, it all started to make more sense.

I believe that The Universe/God needs us to learn certain lessons to protect ourselves, to become more whole, to be better people, to understand more. When we don’t learn the lessons on our own, we need some help. So I believe that people enter our lives to help direct us to the lesson. Unfortunately, these are sometimes the people who cause us much hurt and pain, sometimes repeatedly, until the lesson is learnt.

These people help us to see things in ourselves that we were unable to see on our own. Others show us the truth about circumstances and situations in our lives that we need to change. Some even bring us the joy and strength we may need at the time.

When the lesson is learnt or the change is made, people either remain in our lives because they were meant to, or they leave as a result of the lesson or change. When we have to allow them to leave, or leave them, it hurts, we feel such a loss. But sometimes I just take a step back and analyse what just happened.

Those times of solitude makes me realise that they came into my life for a reason but were not necessarily meant to stay. Losing them isn’t a loss…it is often a gain. I gained knowledge, I learnt something, I changed something. So I allow them to go, thankful that their purpose was served, accepted and appreciated.

 

Vaneeta

Not All Men Are Dogs

There are good, even great men in this world. Women tend to stereotype their taste, limiting themselves to same genre of men….usually those closer to the canine species. We repeatedly make poor choices, then complain that there are no good men.

But that’s not true. What has to change is how we see ourselves and thereby seeing differently, what we deserve. It also comes down to what we consider happiness to be. We often need the excitement of relationship problems to feel alive, normal even. So it starts there.

 

We must re-vamp what determines our happiness; what we need in our lives; what is good for us; what we choose. I have had the best example of an amazing man in my life, my grandfather. Yet for so long I made the poorest choices in a partner.

 

Eventually, I stopped. And i met an equally amazing man who has thrown my life into a complete and happy disarray, forcing me to learn all over again, everything I thought I already did.

 

It’s all in how we perceive ourselves….our choices reflect that perception.

 

Vaneeta

The importance of child bearing and child rearing at 40

As a divorced woman, now happily re-married, months before my 41st birthday, and childless, there has been urgent pressure exerted on me to not waste any more time before having children or at least my first child. I’ve always been bewildered by this urgency as well as by the significance placed on having a baby. I have even had a friend tell me that a woman isn’t truly one until and unless she becomes a mother. This too confuses me as I find it all so difficult to relate to.

 

Obviously, deciding not to have a child was a decision that I made while sober, un-medicated and in good spirits, not scotch. It was thoroughly thought out and discussed with my life partner, my amazing husband. The traditional reasons for having a child as part of my family do not touch me or convince me in any way…

 

REGRET. Regretting later on in life not having a child is possible but not guaranteed. Therefore making a permanent decision over a possibility seems senseless and a very unconvincing argument. Furthermore, I’ll be 41 in a few months…dudes, this is later on in life…no regrets.

 

NO ONE TO TAKE CARE OF ME. This seems to be the most foolish thing I hear people say. How selfish are the people who bring a child into the world so that they can have someone take care of them in their old age. Seriously? Seems way more selfish than me not wanting to raise a child.

 

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE OF A CHILD. The lack of reality and honesty of women amaze me. I suspect this statement comes from an inability to comprehend the meaning of unconditional love. Most of us love our parents to the end of the earth and back, but unconditional love means all the time no matter what. We did not love our parents like that when we were punished, told no, we’re embarrassed as teens etc. We learnt to appreciate our parents tremendously especially with age but let us not confuse it with unconditional love. Obligatory love probably, but try to be honest folks. Furthermore, love is universal and indescribable regardless of the source.

 

TO COMPLETE ME. Proper mental health teaches us that we do not and should not need a man to complete us or make us happy because happiness and wholeness of self comes from within. The same goes for needing any other human being or external element to complete us. If my existence is so sad that I need to bring forth a child to be happy then some serious self reflection needs to occur. If one’s life is happy then there is no need to plug holes.

 

TO SOLIDIFY A MARRIAGE/RELATIONSHIP. For me, this would be the worst and most pathetic reason to have a child. If I had to take such drastic measures to solidify a relationship then that could not be a relationship for me. A relationship must be strong and able to stand on its own. It shouldn’t need a child to fix it. If 2 people want a child by all means they should but when a woman silently decides it’s time, she’s not trapping him. Like a fool, she’s trapping herself.

 

SOCIETAL PRESSURE. Well anyone who knows me well would know that conformity is not my strong suit. Society makes people feel that they NEED to get married because religion says it’s wrong to live in sin. Well, truth be told, I love it. Sin, to me, is something far worse than living with, loving and building a shared life with a man that I adore. Sin is something that many married people commit all the time since marriage is not absolution. People succumb to pressure to get married and have children because it is what’s expected of them. They fail to question their reasons for making life changing, permanent decisions. Obviously I have thought long and hard about not wanting children.

 

CHILDREN ARE SO CUTE. Well…not really. I find them annoying. They are loud and grimy and mostly obnoxious and need to be trained. Something I have not the slightest inclination to do. I don’t find them entertaining or amusing and that’s my opinion. I don’t like pets either. I know myself well enough to not be deluded by the pseudo grandeur of a smiling face staring at me.

 

GOOD AUNT ≠ GOOD MOTHER. I love, absolutely love being an aunt. I have the luxury of spoiling them rotten then returning to owner. My nephew, Oz, is my greatest joy and I admire my cousin, Anasha, for the fantastic mother that she is. He is a happy, always pleasant, amazing little human who I love. I would take care of him and do all that I can to protect him. But this must not be confused with the automatic assumption that I’d be a good mother. A good mother is one who loves being a mother. I love being an aunt.

 

YOU CAN STILL HAVE IT ALL. I hardly think so. Granted lots of parents are happy being parents but let’s get real for 5 seconds. They don’t and can’t live the life that child-free people do. They made a choice so they should very well embrace it and own it and tell themselves whatever they need to, in order to get through the day…or their lives. But don’t try to convince me that I’d still be able to make my 72 pairs of shoes and 40+ handbags my priority. Or that I can jump in my car or on a plane anytime I feel. Or that I can still do P90X as I want. Don’t be a hypocrite. Hypocrisy is simply a more polished form of idiocy. children change your life and your priorities and that’s PERFECTLY fine. I simply do not want my life or priorities to change.

 

To conclude, I find nothing wrong with people deciding to have children, regardless of THEIR reasons. That’s not my business. But I have MY reasons to not want any.
People have every right to bombard my FB feed with pictures of their children as they beam with pride telling, what seems to me, to be the dullest stories in the world about them. Well likewise I have the RIGHT to be thoroughly disgusted by the sickening sounds of crying and screaming children in restaurants and groceries, airplanes and malls.

 

I am in no way imposing my opinion on others or feel like my choices are better than theirs. But these are my opinions and choices.

 

I have a different plan for my life. I like different things. I value my time and my quietude. I make choices that suit me.

 

So before you bombard me with comments that are condescending and insulting…please understand you made your choices. Leave me let me make mine.

 

Vaneeta

Life at 38 – I was divorced, single and happy but experiencing societal hypocrisy at its best.

I had very interesting conversations with some most lovely women this weekend…some were my cousins, some were my old friends and some were new ladies I met. All beautiful, ambitious, sexy, intelligent in their own rights.

Societal hypocrisy has reached an incredible high when it comes to women and men and their sexuality, dating practices, marital status:

 

– men can date as many different women that they’d like and it’s fine with everyone. If women, who are single adults, do the same, we are labelled as so many things that I prefer not list.

 

– most men take the barest care of their bodies and it’s fine. If we grow older, gather some proof of living on us, along the way, and our bodies aren’t perfect, we are less desirable.

 

– if men just want to have sex with a woman and not pursue a relationship, that’s a man being a man. If we do the same saying that we too have needs, we are loose, for want of a less charitable word.

 

– if men want a relationship, he’s one of the good ones. If we do, we are too dependent, clingy and don’t like to be alone.

 

– if a single man has a child, he’s such a good single parent, admirable of course. If a woman does, she’s somewhat of liability to a single man, who doesn’t have a child. Way too much baggage.

 

– if a man is divorced, he has experience and will know how to do better next time. If we are, well…..don’t even think about a never-before-married-man wanting to marry you. Way too much baggage.

 

– if men are comfortable with their sexuality, that’s confidence. If we are, that makes us wild….and that’s not the W-word I meant.

 

Who wants to settle down with a woman who has been single for a long time and has been enjoying HER life, the one she maintains, the one she takes precautions in? No one.
Who wants to marry such a man….anyone really…

 

Vaneeta

 

 

 

Betrayal by men or women…which is worse?

Betrayal is an equal opportunity perpetrator of hurt. It doesn’t seem to matter who we are or what we have done. Once betrayed, we forget all of our own transgressions and see only the betrayal bubble in which we are caught. Betrayal causes us to doubt all that we knew and thought and felt to be true, leaving us wondering if we ever knew anything at all.

Women are somehow accustomed to being betrayed by the men that we love. It is almost like an unspoken societal expectation placed on us to expect as little as possible from the men with whom we share our most intimate selves. But what happens when the betrayal comes from the women, the best friends, with whom we share our entire selves; the friends who are our family; the women who cry and bleed and hurt and celebrate when we do. This betrayal cuts deep into our very being, unleashing a madness that has no explanation. Why? Because we never saw it coming.

There are certain codes among sisters and best friends and even just among women that are sacred, so sacred and understood they need not even be formally discussed. Maybe that’s part of the problem. Perhaps what is obvious to some is of lesser consequence to others. After all, when men betray us, they often need a woman’s assistance for complete success. These very women are also sisters, cousins, mothers, aunts and best friends, so maybe this is where it all starts….with us, the women – perpetrators of betrayal.

The proverbial rug was pull out from under me when my best friend of almost a decade was exposed for breaking a cardinal rule – she was encouraging another best friend to see my ex behind my back for close to a year. To compound it all, the collective decision was taken to go to lengths and take extreme measures to hide it from me,  ‘to protect my feelings’, ‘because they didn’t know how to tell me’. The bobbing and weaving went on for some nine months before they thought I knew the truth. Never did I see it coming. As the rug was jolted away, I was somersaulted into the air. Those five seconds of flying, just before the full extent of reality had sunk in, aren’t so bad because there is an element of doubt – maybe it isn’t what it seems. Maybe she didn’t encourage the match. Maybe she didn’t host soirees for them to meet as I sat home in blissful ignorance. Maybe they didn’t change his contact name on the phone, desperate for me not to figure it out. During the tumble, I started remembering all the signs that I willingly ignored, knowing better along the way – the numerous times I asked what was wrong because I sensed the drifting; his friends joking to my acquaintances that my friend was his new plaything; his neighbour telling a co-worker that my friend would be there all hours of the night; an old friend seeing them together at undistinguished drinking establishments. My cousins greeting them while out for drinks, confused, needless to say. But after the somersaulting comes the landing. You would think that a dancer of thirty seven years would land with a semblance of grace and strength. However, the landing was more of a continuous roll, with an attempt at a tuck, down a flight of winding stairs. Then as reality hits, the confusion becomes clear.

Somehow I had decided to skip the banter of the ‘why’ and ‘how’ and ‘why’. Practicality prevailed, quickly forcing me to accept that this is what it is. Preserving some grace and dignity amidst what seemed to have been public humiliation was of utmost importance. There was also the prevailing element that if I became angry, I would appear as though this was really about my ex, and I surely couldn’t have that if I was going to appear graceful and unaffected. So at the bottom of the winding staircase, I checked for bruises as I decided that playing it cool was the just what the doctor ordered – a reasonable and hopeful prognosis after such a tumble. As I got my footing to stand after such a fall, the air seemed to be clearer on the way up and the prognosis was questioned.

When men betray us in relationships and marriages, anger is accepted and outbursts are expected. It is our right to end those liaisons and if we didn’t, and stayed with the betrayer, we would then deserve all other manifestations of infidelity, dishonesty and betrayal to come our way at their hands. So what was so different when best friends betray? Why are different levels of acceptability existent depending on who does the betraying? Instantly, it had all become clear and a new prognosis emerged – instantaneous cutting of ties.

I realised that I need not be concerned about how I appeared to betrayers. I was angry and I was hurt – why should I pretend I wasn’t? They lied to me; they hid the truth for an extended period; they had no idea how much I actually knew and for how long. They were so consumed with covering tracks that they didn’t see all the glaring signs that I knew what was developing. The moment it hit me and everything came full circle, was still painful, but some processing did occur.

Betrayal by others makes you start to betray yourself and all that you know to be right and true. It causes you to doubt all that you believed about yourself and about others. The challenge was to get past the betrayal and reconstruct some normalcy after this blow. Moving forward and leaving the lies behind isn’t as straightforward as it sounds because essentially you are moving forward without a huge part of you intact – your best friends. So betrayal is really so much more about a loss – a loss of your family, your people, and your support in times like this. So apart from actually dealing with the disloyalty, you are also dealing with dealing with it alone.

Society tells us that we must forgive in order to heal; we must let go of the pain and anger in order to feel free and be able to move on. Now forced to recover from this tragedy, I started to question forgiveness and how it actually works. Does forgiveness really come before the healing; does it come so THAT we can heal. I am not sure I believe that. I didn’t know how to force myself to forgive when I wasn’t actually feeling it. What made sense to me was to take some time to process it all, think about it, cry about it, be angry about it, and question it. As time passed, I got no answers, but I did get a sense of peace that I knew the truth and that I had cut it out of my life. There was a comfort knowing that I was not accepting disloyalty as part of my relationships and even though I lost two best friends, I now knew the that they never really were my friends. It was better knowing who they really were, than keeping them in my life so that I had the false sense of best-friend comfort.

Forgiveness didn’t come until after healing had started. Therefore, forgiveness is a by-product of healing, rather than being the catalyst for healing. According to Psychology Today, ‘’the other primary function of forgiveness is relationship detachment. Detachment from an emotional bond occurs at the point when you become able to think about your betrayer without significant positive or negative emotion. In other words, you’re “over it.” That kind of forgiveness is described as bringing “peace.” Unfortunately, detachment through forgiveness is rare’’.

Life after betrayal must be taken slowly. It entails some understanding, a lot of letting go, accepting that answers will not offered. Sometimes we have to accept that people have different standards than us. They see things differently and their truths tend to vary. We may never understand why people do what they do with no care or concern for the consequences. We can only control what we do in response and in the future. Life isn’t equal and God is not communist – he didn’t make us all the same. All that can occur is that a lesson be learnt – that lesson differs from one betrayed to another. You learn things about others and are reminded of qualities in you – all lessons in some degree or another.

My lessons are now clear. Even though I knew it before, it now took shape. I would never hurt those dear to me and remain unaccountable for my actions, more angry that they were angry at me for wronging them. I would say sorry if I transgressed someone. I could forgive transgressions in time but I would never forget the capabilities of those who betrayed me. I won’t let a deceitful experience make me believe that our entire gender is untrustworthy because I won’t let this experience make me bitter. I don’t need to share all of my experiences with those closest to me, in order to feel close to them. I may not be better than them, but I am different. I am me.

 

Life thereafter….

Do unto others

I’ve been guilty of not following this lesson. For that I am sorry.

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, all the ways we made situations worse, all the ways we were hurtful to others.

When we feel that we have been trespassed against, reactionary hate seems acceptable at the time. But is it really? We all understand and accept that two wrongs don’t make a right, until we feel the pain of betrayal, wrongdoing, accusations. Then somehow, that rule no longer applies to us. For this, too, I’ve been guilty of, and for that I am sorry.

There are some transgressions that are harder to move pass than others. For example, where I have happily forgiven my ex-husband for all that i felt he had done, understanding that it takes 2 to make a marriage work, I will still have no desire for a friendship with him. His transgressions were repeated, deliberate and well calculated.

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. This too I’ve been guilty of, and for that I am sorry.

Time really does heal all wounds, once we let it.

I am so happy that my friends and I were able to sit and talk things out like we probably should have a long time ago. But again, in retrospect, we didn’t exactly handle things as well as we could have.

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.

Things may never be the same, and that’s ok. But at least, we were finally mature enough to do what needed to be done….forgive.