- Disclaimer: The following post has nothing to do with any one person or any specific event. I use my writing as a vehicle of expression, self- therapy, self – discovery and self- healing. If this does not find you well. Simply let it be. I thank you kindly.
Good morning everyone! It’s 11 a.m and it’s quite rainy today in Cape Town and surrounds. I woke up quite late today but I am so grateful for this new week that awaits us and I look forward to just enjoying my Monday.
Morning mantra: “Thank you for blessing me with another day.”
I am taking advantage of the cold weather by spending time indoors and also going within. This is a sensitive topic that has impacted me for decades now. It’s something that I have tried to address in different ways with different people and very few people get it or get me. Allow me to elaborate.
Learn to read between the lines. Pay attention to what is not being said. Not everyone uses literal language or expresses themselves literally. Secondary emotions reveal the crux of the matter. Sadness might actually be an indication of feeling ignored and unheard by others. Needs might be unmet. Find out what those needs are and learn to meet those needs as best as you can, for yourself. Speak to those who are not meeting your needs and teach them how to feed your deserved needs.
– Skylar Darrigan.-
I am like a book. In fact, I am an open book, but not that many people know how to read me well. Yes, they can read the words on the pages, but they might not be able to make educated observations or use their critical thinking skills to really look at some of my chapters in life as ones that were difficult to decipher, ones that caused a lot of trauma, ones that reflects on teen hood and early adulthood emotional neglect and being physically put in harms way and ones where I was abandoned for lengthy periods of time without any knowledge of knowing if someone would come back for me, if they assumed I would just survive with age, if they thought I was ok, because I looked ok on the outside or if they simply refused to take accountability or responsibility for their ill- informed decision making skills that they made on my behalf and then chose to act like it never happened.
My chapters are complex, perplexed and lengthy. So slow readers or novice readers won’t even take up the challenge of reading this book from cover to cover.
So I have to cover for them? Should I just summarize the main points? Write up some crip notes? Spoon feed them?
I choose not to do that now. I choose to write better chapters and for those who wish to read, they better be well – prepared, highly educated and be fully equipped for researching, evaluating and comparing and contrasting my story with a world view.
I was not handed a coping manual while delving through all those chapters of my life.I had to fend for myself in ways that were not just a case of needing a meal and a place to stay to feel safe, but also a hug and some sincere words of encouragement to feel safe. I needed it to be maintained. We all need that. We need stability within change and transition.We all go through stages and phases of life and what keeps us going and makes us feel safe and anchored is stability. The smallest sense of consistency and ability makes us reach for more.
I didn’t need once offs, spur of the moments, only when it was my birthday or only when I achieved something or only when someone remembered or only when it is convenience. Yes, I know we are all busy but nobody is that busy. There is a time and place for everything and everyone. We must learn to manage and adapt to that as each stage arrives. I needed a constant within my chaos,so that my chaos could learn to create and not dissipate.
“Even though my stomach was full. My heart was empty. And it hurt.”
To clarify: I have never gone to bed hungry or thirsty when it came to my physical needs but I have felt emotionally emaciated and malnourished and my heart strings broke with each chord that others could only interpret only as sadness or being ungrateful and not genuine hunger and thirst for more of what I needed, wanted and deserved and that was love, understanding and nurturing.
I have been through the process of looking for love in all the wrong places, looking for it in all the wrong faces and wanting those who were already obligated to care and love others, to love me and love me more and love me best. And the more I would look for it in others who could not give love to me with ease, in walked dis- ease. If it was only given to me for a short while, in walked abandonment and separation anxiety and if it was only given to me under severe or special circumstances in walked a false sense of self.
“Being abroad made me lose sight of my mind. I thought I knew enough. I knew nothing. And that was my biggest break into world travel and inner knowing.”
Many of us, expats or people who leave their hometowns in search of better opportunities get treated this way. We feel discarded,replaced, left out, forgotten, unwelcomed, unappreciated,unworthy and unlovable.
It’s a painful, hurtful, confusing and disheartening truth to walk through and it’ ll drive a person to isolation and loneliness which is unnecessary and undeserved. When inclusivity and acknowledgement is an option.
“The honeymoon phase fades and it’s a hard slap of reality when you become a novelty and not a collector’s item. People praise you at first, then they start to ignore you. Until you come back home again. Then they praise you. And when you leave. They ignore you again. It hurts to say the least. At best, it’s better for me to choose Me.”
Initially everyone celebrates your win. They have farewells for you. They say come visit. They say we will come and visit you and they tell you to keep in touch. But the moment you stay away or quiet for too long, they decide, without evaluating the situation, without researching, without investigation, without knowing the emotional climate or without knowing your battles, that you have now thrown your friends and family away.
Meanwhile they might not know that you are ALONE in a foreign country. That there is a different set of rules and cultural norms that you must follow or adapt to if you want to thrive and live well. That you are busy learning a new language,that you need to contact at least 20 people before you can get a simple and straightforward answer to something that would take 15 minutes to do in your place.
That anger is frowned upon in the work place. That you can get fired for not being friendly and that you can also get dismissed for being 5 minutes late to work. That after signing a very attractive contract that came with many benefits and job security you were treated like a slave.
Yes, I use the world slave as a way of showing that whichever company I was then working for, acted like they owned me and took my dignity away from me.
There were instances where I literally had to perform like a clown to entertain them and that it took away from my passion of being a teacher. That I was threatened with losing my visa and that it became a constant nightmare to go to work or even enjoy my days off ,because I had to use those to go for medical appointments, run errands, go grocery shopping, try and take a break.
All of this while I was missing my nearest and dearest who could not take the small initiative of picking up the phone every once in a while to blast my inbox with happy photos or sending me a care package as a collective so I would know that I was not out of sight and out of their minds and my mind. I am not talking about tagging me in status updates or chain messaging me things. I am referring to sending something to me,for me to remind me that I am still there even though I am not physically there.
Do a life audit of your friends, family and contacts. It’ll make your life and their lives easier once you remove who no longer serves you and remove yourself if you don’t have anything to offer them.
I sat in my apartment one day, in Colombia, and I wrote down, as an exercise how many family members I roughly had. It wasn’t about bashing my family. I simply did it as the family unit is easier to evaluate and they are tied together whereas a group of friends might not have the same person in common, which in this case, was me.
I noticed that I had about 40 family members give or take only from the one side of the family. What I wished then was that if people were not able to visit me, or might not have time to call or text because of life happening, have they ever thought of pulling together and doing something for me as a collective? Has it crossed their minds to think, ” How would I feel if I were alone in a foreign country, far away from home, what would fill my heart with joy right now? What would feed my soul right now? A family photo? A video? Some South African snacks? A book? A birthday card? ” And had they not know, they could simply ask me.
And so, I reflected on my life abroad. I reflected on feeling and being left out and how being excluded hurts on the inside and sometimes shows on the outside and I made peace with myself and my circumstances.After 7 years of change, I have changed for the better. I made peace with my choice to honour my uniqueness and celebrate my bravery of being the first of my generation of women to do what I boldly did.
Which was to step out of my comfort zone and gain a world view. I stepped out of my comfort zone and I pushed through my emotional pain. I pushed through my trauma and I pushed through the loneliness. I pushed through the abandonment and I am damn proud of myself for being able to now walk with grace and poise into this new chapter of my life.
Count your blessings one by one. Remember to always start with you, that’s blessing number one.- 143-
Today, I would love to dedicate this post to all my friends who are still living, working and loving abroad.
You have taught me so much about myself as a South African, as a solo traveler, as a person, a friend, a lover a teacher, an aunt, a cousin, a sister, a niece, and a writer.
Those who have returned to Mzansi, I thank you as well. Thank you for being kind, inclusive, supportive, humble, understanding, collaborative, uplifting, fun, crazy, adventurous, daring and resilient. WE made the best of the best times and have gone through the worst of the worst times together. Love live our bonds!
Our bonds lie forever together wherever we may find ourselves. This is the beauty of Universal love. It’s always there. It’s omnipresent and everlasting.
Also, to my support system here at home in South Africa. I thank each and everyone of you, the calls in the midnight hours, the voice notes, the photos, the good news, the constant updates, the last minute favours, the driving in and out, the good company, the dancing and doing yoga together, playing music together, listening to me recite my poetry so I can find my voice,the watching the stars and enjoying the full moons, the constant check- ins, the songs, the videos, the cards, the welcome homes, the take care of yourself’s, the hugs, the outings, the dinners, the braais, the play dates with your kids and hanging out with your husbands and wives, the love you lots, the you’re welcome to stay as long as you wish’s ALL is WELL with Estelle thanks to you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. May blessings shower your day today.
And if you are reading this and feel like the above mentioned views within your own environment, I don’t know where you are or who you are. You might be from a small town like me or you might be a world famous author or singer or a struggling artist or an outcast or a misfit. Let me tell you how brilliant you are.
I will convey to you what one of my mentors at university at the department of African Languages said to me a few weeks ago: ” Be strong. You are not alone and as soon as one door closes, another and another and another will open. Just be strong and love yourself. Don’t put your eggs in one basket. “
with Love and Light,
Keep glowing beautiful souls.