Life: An Open-Ended Question

And here I am, sitting in my bed, in my lowly lit bedroom, writing again. The truth is that I have been too shattered to find a space to face my insides the way I used to. Bold. Brave. The way Didi knows how. Why? Well, my insides have been (and to some degree still are) recovering from a heartbreak. My heart exploded in such a way that the shattered pieces went in all kinds of directions, I suspect I will still find some shards of glass hiding away in some obscure places, I will leave the discovery of these to future encounters. But, for now, I am okay enough to be here writing. For that I am thankful.
I don’t even know where to begin with sharing the biggest chunk of what has been causing the heartbreak, so when I find myself lost as to where to begin I just dive in. So here goes… I lost 2 very important people in my life in a space of 2 weeks in the month of March. One was a trusted and well loved and cared for friend and the other was a lover who I had shared countless hours and weeks, amounting to months nurturing and being nurtured by.

The loss of a friend

The thing about friendships is that they seem a lot more “mendable” than intimate relationships. That’s my take at least. There is this feeling that I can work anything out with friends because there is no physical contact that could potentially manipulate and sway my emotions. Hugs can try but they just don’t have the power that intimate physical contact has. My friend and I probably actually ended our friendship months ago, perhaps I was a fool sitting with an extended arm in an imaginary room, with an open door, a door that I was waiting to see my friend walk back into so that we could talk, fight, cry, laugh, do whatever it was that we needed to do in order to mend the tears we had collectively created in the fabric of our friendship (more and more I find that my strongest friendships are the ones where the fabric is made up of patches of sewn up holes. They have texture. Those friendships are the ones I value most. Never did I think I would admit that in writing, but here I am.)
I sat in that room, arm extended, aching from the strain, with an open door for all of 4 months but my friend never walked back in. Once I had begun accepting that he would never walk back in I began a process offiguring out how best to go about being okay with not having him be a part of my life, after seeing him every day of my life for over a year. It was painful, heart-wrenching, nonetheless, acceptance was needed here, and so was unclenching my sweat-drenched fists and gently releasing my feelings, thoughts, missed opportunities of words that could have been shouted, vomited, said or written. They had to be let go of – a necessary first step towards any level of acceptance. Once I began unclenching my fist and letting go of all the “unsaids” and “could-have-dones” I began feeling my own power returning to me in all its essence. The power that allows me to unapologetically feel and know that I am allowed to be sad, angry and upset about how things have unfolded. That it’s completely okay to feel whatever my heart wants to feel about how the chips have fallen. I am allowed to.

The death of a love once shared

A space we both entered into courageously. Knowing full well that in order to stand any chance of seeing each other, kissing, touching, holding one another we would need to overcome a distance that would take a flight lasting between 11 and 12 hours to overcome. I loved him. I don’t know how I know it. I can’t measure it nor can I prove it, but somehow I know that I did. Without a single doubt in my mind I know I loved him. Nothing will ever shake that deep knowing. The relationship was a short course, a crash course of sorts, which ended in an unbelievable crash-landing resulting in a heart ripped open on the runway, bleeding uncontrollably, an aura dripping with sadness and devastation & a new kind of darkness I never knew I could reach. (For a moment the concept of suicide didn’t seem quite so outrageous). The file labelled “lessons learnt from being in this long distance relationship” is currently being put together, I imagine I will keep adding to it throughout my life. Isn’t that how it works? We never truly know what we have learnt until we are faced with opportunities to put our past pains to good use.

Life is an open-ended question

According to the internet “An open-ended question is designed to encourage a full, meaningful answer using the subject’s own knowledge and/or feelings.“
Perhaps I do hold somewhat of a clear list of “lessons learnt” but am too scared to begin to unpack them, certainly not here, not right now. However what I will share is that the hardest thing about losing both the lover and friend is that I was left with feelings of being unlovable, the feeling that I was only loveable when I had a bright smile, a pocket full of jokes, enough rays of sunshine to power a solar-powered household for a year, but not worth the trouble and time when my darkness showed itself, when I myself needed those rays of sunshine I so happily handed out, when I was bursting at the seams, then I was reduced to a burden too heavy to carry, a burden so easily discarded and dumped.

A note I discovered whilst cleaning the mess my broken heart left inside me

With my increasing amount of years on this planet I have found that conflict is an opportunity to engage with something that wants to be discovered and worked with, something that emerges, and something that was previously invisible and is now brave enough to make itself visible to our eyes and hearts. I am intrigued by conflict and what it asks of us.

I am a seeker, a searcher, a curious mad-woman.

searchersImage found here ---> (Click here)
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This is what happened to me at Berlin Hauptbanhof

I wrote this on the morning of the 27th of July and I am absolutely fascinated by how much has shifted in myself since then. Reading this, I feel no pain or irritation whatsoever, in fact a lot of the questions I pose below have received clear and profound answers. I will share these in a later post that I will hopefully write up today at some point.

Here is what happened on the morning of the 27th of July at the Berlin Hauptbanhof Train Station

Source

“So I’m travelling to Stuttgart and I went to the train station SUPER early as my train was meant to leave at 6:37 in the morning. There is a special on at the moment with DB (Deutsch Bahn) which says that  you can travel with more than 1 person on a cheap ticket. Cheap being 42 eur and an additional 6 eu for every additional passenger. Essentially meaning that a ticket to Stuttgart could cost me around 13 eur. A real bargain. The guy at the information desk of DB suggested that I stand at the entrance of the ticket office with my sign which he wrote for me in German. I did that.

As I was standing there 2 police men approach. They were about to walk past and then one of them turned to me and asked me for my passport. So I asked him why he wanted my passport and he said “We’re doing a police control”, as internally annoyed as I am I give him my passport, he asks me where I’m from, I tell him “From South Africa as you can see in the passport”, he paces around for a while (I’m very aware that he’s looking for my visa for Germany), so eventually I ask the other police man if that is what he is looking for and he says yes, so I take my Swedish residence permit and Visitors permit out and hand it to him.

He radios someone and then calls someone, next thing you know, another police approaches, this time it’s a woman, she arrives “at the crime scene” – seeing as that’s what they were treating it as! And offcourse me; the criminal ,the main part of this very important and vital investigation. The woman police came to get my passport as well as my residence and visitors permit. She leaves without saying a word, so I ask where my documents are being taken to and one of the policemen turns to me and responds in German “immigration control”, so I keep quiet, realising what a silly and un-true answer this was. So later on after numerous phone calls and many many conversations in German amongst themselves, I say “excuse me, what is the confusion?” and he says to me “LISTEN, this is a police control”, “I understand that but I’m asking what the confusion is here” I re-iterate and he responds “ Look, this a a police control, just SHUT UP!”.

You see, those last 2 words at the end of the sentence are what pushed my main button, here I am standing with a  sign in German in Berlin Hauptbanhop, a tourist. Just that. A tourist.  And I am being told to “SHUT UP”  when asking what is happening concerning my paperwork, my possessions and essentially my freedom of movement. To be told to “Shut Up” when I am doing and saying nothing rude or out of the ordinary is totally out of line. Especially by someone who’s job description includes “protecting and serving civilians”. In fact even if I was being rude he had no right to tell me to “SHUT UP”.

After about half an hour, the woman police returns with my passport and permits. I am so upset at this point, that I am telling the policeman who told me to shut up, how distasteful, unnecessary, rude and power-misusing he was being. I could see him getting worked up. His colleague seemed uncomfortable, he was younger and had purer eyes. I could see that he was deliberately avoiding eye contact with me. He was new in the game and this arrogant policeman was his trainer.

I remember at one point there being a passenger needing help on something, a German word or a platform number – I’m not sure what. The arrogant man responded by saying that he was a policeman and not information personnel, there is something of thinking and truly believing that he is superior in that statement. Above me, above that passenger, above the personnel at the information desk. He was a policeman – some skewed understanding of what his role and job meant.

Offcourse I was here legally and the woman police returns with my documents and the police man says a very in-genuine and slimy  “thank you” , as he hands me my papers back I move my hand back and look him in the eye and once more express that him telling me to “SHUT UP” was just not right. The woman policeman, without knowing anything of what had happened, skews her face and says to me “What’s your problem?” in a disgusted and very matter-of-fact tone of voice , it was like a scene from a movie I would call “guilty until proven guilty”. I felt oppressed, unheard.

I eventually opened my palm and took back my documents.

They walked away speaking in German and I imagine discussing how annoying I was being and whatever else. Because they looked smug and arrogant, smirking as they spoke, turning around to make sure I saw how much they didn’t care how I felt.

I was so internally shaken that I had to have some sort of release, despite trying to fight the feeling my emotions erupted through tears, I cry when I am angry because it’s such a powerful emotion and I often don’t know how to release it either than through crying.

After my release, a woman who had been sitting with her daughter nearby “the scene of the crime” walked over to me and gave me a pack of tissues. She understood, without openly saying so, I know she was saying “I understand”.

Later on, the woman police and another older man, I think the supervisor walks past, and I wave him over to express how much I did not appreciate being spoken to as I had been when there really was no valid reason to feel that way.

Lo’ and behold this man, the more matured and fermented slime-ball he was, looked at me as I was speaking to him, as if I smelt like poop. You know? He even looked ugly. I realised in that moment that there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING  I could say or do that would get them to understand what I meant and why I hated being told to “SHUT UP”.

I think anyone who reads my blog and who has ever met me, knows how good I am at expressing myself. I am clear. In that moment I was very clear and as unemotional as possible in expressing my distaste of being told to “SHUT UP”. He continued looking at me as if I smelt bad, looking progressively ugly. He eventually said, “I don’t understand what your problem is” (Seriously?), the woman policeman then contributes to the conversation by speaking something in German. A lot of “something” and I ask her to please speak in English because I don’t understand what she is saying and I am standing there, a part of the conversation, the very reason for the conversation.

The conversation then took a downward spiral (upon retrospection I am happy that I released when I did) , she said that it was Germany and so she would speak German, she asked me what I was doing in Germnay “anyway” and why I was here “without any money” and the male police man chipped in by saying something about my race, there it was. I had not said it, he did. I responded but didn’t put any more effort and energy as was necessary.

This is what I want to say following all of this.

How am I expected NOT to walk around with a chip on my shoulder when this is the kind of treatment and comments I am met with when I am being open and simply moving through life?

Why do German people and other Europeans not need a VISA to visit places such as South Africa but I need one to be here?

Why does my financial situation concern them so much? Is it really adequate reasoning for proving that I am deserving to be anywhere?

What is the job of policeman and women? (I actually asked them this numerous times and they were unable to answer)

Why the FUCK do borders exist?

Why does power and control turn people into irresponsible, over-bearing, power-hungry monsters?

Why is it possible that ANYONE can at some point in life hold that much power over others?

Why is there constant camera surveillance, what is being watched and monitored really?

What is Facebook REALLY and TRULY about?

Why is money the ruler of our souls?

How can Africans (and other more brown people) stop feeling inferior when so much of so much is designed to make us feel inferior?

More importantly, why am I here and enduring this harshness, what are these experiences coming to me to bring forth?

 What wants to come of the combination of these unpleasant experiences?

I would like to end with this, I am free, I will always be free, there is not a single human being in this world who can take that from me, ever. I felt that so strongly when the policemen were ‘doing their job”.

I am the master of my faith.

I am the captain of my soul”

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, a lot has changed in myself since this happened, I read this and feel close to nothing, but I wanted to share this story anyway because I know that there are people out there who have endured this kind of pain and perhaps this is that little rope they need to feel that they are not alone or to begin to explore other possibilities of freedom. Because I truly believe and now KNOW that there is not a single person on this planet that can actually really take away my freedom. It is mine and that is not negotiable.

I am grateful for pain because…

I am grateful for all that I have come across in this life. Pain being one of those not so common things to have on the “I’m thankful for this” list.

So here comes why…

I am thankful for pain because it gives me a different lense for life,

I am thankful for pain because it allows me to be fully human,

I am thankful for pain because it helps me hear you,

I am thankful for pain because it assists me in listening, (to you and to the world’s needs)

I am thankful for pain because it humbles me,

I am thankful for pain because it give me strength and resilience,

It shows what I possess inside this body, mind and soul, truly,

I am thankful for pain because it brings truth,

I am grateful for pain mostly because it allows me to truly see you, it makes it difficult for me to judge you.

I am grateful for pain for it liberates heaviness,

I am grateful for pain because it is a vacation from happiness,

I am grateful for pain for it is painful.

[This song is not directly connected to this post, but of course it is a slice of it and I wanted to share it at some point because it soothes me when I feel deep pain]

And this one

Also here, I visit when I am low

Visible scars help the invisible ones – a walk through Berlin

I am in Berlin. Perhaps you may have noticed due to this post of my Hitch-hiking adventure to reach this place.

There are many things I love about this place and I have some postards to re-iterate what I see as the countless reasons for loving this place. There is a huge part of me that actually wants to move here. To live here. I want this to be my home.

Today we all gathered from many parts of Europe and different learning institutions to meet at Brandenburgertor to begin this AMAZING program. More like a mission. It’s called Mission-U (very aptly named) I will write more about this as the week progresses, all I want to share for now is that it is off to a fantastic start.

[Source of Image]

Our first “mission” was to walk from Brandenburgertor to our home and hub which is in the very very centre of Berlin and to look at the city whilst we do it. We were also challenged to look at the fascades of the buildings and what lies behind the fascades and also look behind the fascades of the people we meet on the streets, whilst meeting someone new from our over 100 group of participants. It was great.

The person I was speaking to gave me a brief and interesting history and explanation of why the buidlings look the way that they do. He explained and showed me the parts of the buildings that were damaged by bullet holes. He described them as the scars of the city.

I found this fascinating, I couldn’t help but relate our conversation and the comaprison of the city and it’s buildings to the situation in South Africa. That perhaps our scars are not visible and so therefore it is difficult to be careful with them – all of them. Those belonging to the Afrikaner people as well as the people who were oppressed during Apartheid.

Later I thought, “Ah, maybe our “scars” are the statues, monuments, buildings and street names that celebrate and commemorate the leaders or figures from the past who drove and stood for and supported the system of Apartheid”. I immediately found discomfort dancing in my stomach.

That’s a problem, when the scars of a city or country are represented by people, or monuments, buildings, statues and streetnames celebrating those people. That is a problem.

Because, we then struggle to move past the person and the group of people and what they stand for outside of what these physical structures represent or evoke within us.

This is a problem because perhaps these things I have named are not the scars of the city.

It is a problem when we don’t have those visible scars to keep up with what we are feeling within. It’s hard when a city does not easily depict the hurt of a place, especially such a heavy hurt.

It is not simply the act of “closing” the subject and moving on. Because it takes time and a very caring and careful process in order to close anything. I mean, think about how hard it is sometimes to just walk away from a conversation where you and the person you are conversing with are simply not reaching agreement.  How hard is that? To walk away from the conversation and just “close it”. It is hard.

This topic is an open and continous and long one. These thoughts I share as I go along.

Does South Africa have visible scars in the city? I mean physical structures? If not, what is best, seeing the scars or not seeing the scars? I’m overwhelmed by my heading back to South Africa, I suppose it is obvious and this is a therapeutic process for me. A needed process.

Let’s see how the rest of my visit to berlin will be like. Let’s see how my feelings become as I approach my arrival back to South Africa.

Thank you for listening.

“Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting the great battle”

The title is a quote by Philo of Alexandria or Plato depending on your source. It is one of my favourite quotes and I try my best to meet people with this in mind. To try to remember it and to attempt to listen to their presence knowing that they do have a story and a cross to carry.

One of my best friends wrote me an email as a response to this post I wrote about inheritance. The inheritance I spoke to was not of the material kind, it is more of the intangible kind. Read it and see if you can relate.

I asked if I could post her thoughts as a post of it’s own because it touched me deeply and it was a string of precious truth. I think it’s valubable to share it. Here are her thoughts.

“…the real reason for my email is just to share my thoughts with you after I read your blog about inheritance.
I was overjoyed when I knew that I’ve found a person I could open my heart to about my own feelings.

I too feel like I’ve inherited something. Guilt, that I dont want or need in my life. It is not mine,
but now I am bearing the cross. I am angry, so angry that because of the mere lack of pigment in my skin
I take on that guilt. Maybe I’m angry at myself for allowing it in, maybe I’m angry at others for making me
feel that way.

In my class of 45 sutdents, I am the only white person. I dont feel any different to my fellow students.
I get on the 3rd class carriage of the train and ride with them to wherever I go, because thats what I would have
done anyway if I was alone. But somehow they see me differently. They think I get treated better by the college<
they think I have perks. And that hurts. They think I do well in my test because of what I look like. They think I have
it easy. When topics discussed in class visit the past, i feel horrible. And guilty, and ashamed. But I also feel alone.

I see amazing relationships between people which just restores my faith in humanity.
I want to drive to the middle of the desert, stop along the side of an abandoned road,
take the cross of my shoulders, and leave it there. I want to watch it disappear into dust in the rearview mirror.

I guess all I wanted to say to you is, i know how you feel. We carry heavy things because we are thinkers
and because we have open hearts and we care. Thats a good thing. ANd that makes the load a little lighter.

I love you my dear friend Didi…”

What are your thoughts on inheritance? I think in South Africa it is a deep question which opens raw wounds. It’s not a subject that we as a nation are really ready to face (with all its pain and truth) and therefore allow ourselves the forgiveness and right to move on. I wish us the bravery to go to that uncomfortable place and work with it. Feel it and then come up for air and move forward in a new way.

It’s delicate.

(Source of image)

What have you inherited?

The last couple of weeks and days have felt like I have been a circus performer, juggling all kinds of tasks and thoughts, while performing multiple tricks in the kitchen including illusions (part realities depending on your perspective) of abundance.

So writing has been on my mind but not quite coming out in the form which I would like it to. But here I am finally; letting the words occupying my mind free.

About 2 weeks ago we had the pleasure of having Charles Eisenstein as a contributor. He was and is phenomenal (In case you have not read or heard about his work yet, look here). During his week I took the opportunity to be really honest with my community about something that has been weighing heavily on my shoulders, head and heart. It is a heaviness that follows me everywhere I go and is constantly there, it just sleeps sometimes, but it is always there.

What is this weight I speak of? Well, I have a lot of ANGER. An anger about the pain I carry, anger about inequality, anger about race relations, anger about South Africa and the situation my generation and I have inherited.

This anger does not always feel like mine, to be really honest, it feels like something built into my DNA, engraved into my bones. Something I have no choice about carrying and dealing with. Something which has been passed down to me due to the fact that it was unresolved in years before my arrival on this earth. I can’t quite put my finger on it. But I feel it so strongly sometimes, that it feels like the gall bladder in my body has burst and the bile is contaminating my internal structure, poisining my every cell, my every organ and affecting my thought patterns and actions. I hate it. I feel so bitter. Unbearable. Unloveable. Unable to love.

Coming to YIP has been a challenge in allowing this anger to be, in a constructive way. A way that can bring enlightenment and awareness instead of darkness. I still feel like I need to consciously reign it in – not always in the healithiest ways. Clearly, a long journey lies ahead of me in working with this heavy sandbag. Sometimes I feel ready and up for it and other times I fear going there because it is so exhausting.

I do want to work with this anger. I want to explore it, examine it closely and understand it. It is here to bring some sort of truth to me and others. It in necessary. Although that is hard to swallow.

There is a part of me that feels that this anger (more specifically about racial inequality in South Africa), wants to give birth to something beautiful, something transformational, it wants to be the mother to something easier to pass on to those that come after me to continue working with. A lesser anger perhaps, a more pleasant truth. I’m not yet sure what it is exactly and how I will bring it into being. It will come, I know it will and it will be beautiful and it will buid and not destroy. on second thoughts it may destroy, it may destroy in order to allow a new foundation and a new reality to come about.

This makes me think about what legacy we leave behind…

What habits, actions, words are you releasing into the world today that are going to affect those that follow you on this earth? Long after you have gone, turned to dust, what precious treasure or ugly truth will you leave behind for someone else to walk on this earth with, engraved into their bones, sprouting from their DNA, being carried on their shoulders?

What have you inherited due to those that came before you? I mean physically (offcourse) but also emotionally and mentally – even spiritually, those intangible yet very real aspects? What are you walking around with that does not feel like yours, that which now belongs to you but feels inherited?

(Source of image)

Grieving. Unpealing. Healing?

My mom and sister told me at the beginning of this week that our dog (Squealer) was not doing so well and that she was going to be taken to a vet as soon as they had enough money to do so. So my sister made it happen and the doctors basically said that she was on her last legs and that she could pass on at any moment. He kidneys were beginning to fail and she was on dialysis.

On Tuesday afternoon on my way to Stockholm, I hitch-hiked. It was one of those rare occasions where I got a ride from my doorstep straight into Stockholm. The lady that gave me a ride didn’t talk at all. I was slightly relieved. I was not in much of a talking mood. She played classical music the entire way; I found myself just sobbing the entire way to Stockholm. Without interruption or judgement, I cleansed my soul in that little car. Releasing.

It was almost as though, that silent lady, she entered into my life at that specific moment to give me time to mourn.To feel. To drop the invisible, yet heavy, sandbags from my shoulders. I knew somewhere within me that Squealer was not going to make it.

Anyway, today my sister asked me to be available to skype at any moment.

So around 5:30pm I called her and they were at the vet. The whole family was there. She was lying on the table with a tube up her nose and a cloth covering her tummy. I could see she was in a lot of pain. I called to her and she raised her head, and responded with a squeal. She appreciated that in some way I was there to bid her farewell.

The doctor then came in to give her the medication that would send her off painlessly. I know my family, especially my sister and mother, had a hard time deciding this. But the realisation that she was in so much pain and that all her organs were shutting down one by one caused them to reach the decision of putting her out of her misery.

It was calculated that although she was 14 years in human terms she was actually between 90 and 105 dog years of age. An old lady.

As she was being injected my dad was stroking her. I think my dad was her favourite person.

She passed on and I just saw my sister walk towards my dad and embrace him and hug him. My dad was sobbing. So was my sister.

I have never seen my father that torn up and emotional. My younger brother and my mom were in the background with swollen eyes and tears tolling down their faces. It was particularly difficult to see my younger brother struggle so much.

My mom didn’t say a word. Understandably.

So yes, a hard hard day it was.
I miss my family and this afternoon really made me see how much I am missing out on by being away from home, but also highlighted this part in myself that prefers to be away because I don’t want to feel so much. The part of me that would rather not feel is still there. But it was in hiding today. Thankfully.

She was the first pet we ever had and it feels like I have lost a family member. One that never demanded anything, that simply gave love and affection and was a companion at all times. Always ready to be there. Also very perceptive to our emotions. She somehow knew whenever one of us was having a dark and difficult time (emotionally or healthwise) and she would naturally just sit with that person all day. Just there – offering silent strength, support and love.

A soldier, a queen, a pillar.

A little furry doggy. A ball of energy and love.

I never EVER thought that I would be this devastated by the death of an animal. A dog. Our pet. Nor that it would bring the family together in this way. This article delivered some solace, peace of mind and sanity to some seemingly insane emotions.

We will miss you Little Miss Squealer. Thank you for bringing love, brightness , laughter. playfulness and gentleness to our family.

It has come to my attention that there is a wide range of people who read my blog. From all over the world. Going through all sorts of things. So I thought to myself “to include this would be harmless” —> I found this while searching for something to reassure me that what I was feeling was not silly. I was not over-reacting.

There is a poem at the end of this page which , according to me, could apply for any kind of grieving. I have included it below. (Thanks to my beautiful room mate and friend – Caitlyn Oberg – for introducing me to this song today)

A POEM FOR THE GRIEVING…

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die…

-Anonymous

Source of this poem