Affirmation 

Affirmation 

​Woman: 

You are an astoundingly aesthetic soul.
A beautiful humanbeing.
Do not disrespect the amazing woman you are becoming by settling for a man that treats you like you are mediocre.

This concept that you must audition for a space in someone’s life, plz bbz,
if they can’t see your worth and treat you accordingly then kindly request them to  please step aside.
They are are standing in the pathway, obstructing road for adequate beings,
to the mecca that is you.

Do not ever settle to be disrespected,
Your mother did not go through hours of labour pains for a person to make you feel like you aren’t enough.
 
“Enough” is a default setting.

Let them leave the valuating your worth,
and rather, concern themselves with the introspection on whether they are worthy of a woman like you.
  

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​You are a December of drunken nights…
Of strangers whose mouths’ have hosted my lips and not my name.

A montage of memories,
captured in morse code,
throbbing words,
echoing in an empty chest.
 
You are the high in the trip,
           -a chaotic height to fall from
And you were the withdrawal,
           -the needle piercing it’s way out a                 vein,                       

leaving the residue of memory,
Of that  one time I had a drug of choice.
And it was love.
And it was you.
                 
                            

Self-Preservation 

Self-Preservation 

​“Look, I am not denying that you have a lot of people to take care of, and I am not saying that you must remove any of them off your priority list. I am just asking you to include yourself on that list, doesn’t matter how many people are on that list, and it doesn’t matter what number you are on that list, just as long as you’re also on it”

    It was a dark day, and I was powering through The Most, putting on several capes for all the things and people I had to look after. My friend said this to me in the course of an hour long conversation of me rebutting every effort of hers to get me to admit that I was not okay. Boy, I went down fighting, and the only statement that I could accept to look after myself without feeling guilty was this fine one here. 

    Why is self -care such a hard act? Why is it that a small act of self-preservation can make one feel as though they are being selfish? Why are we programed to give continuously and feel guilty for replenishing ourselves? These words were the only palatable form of self-preservation that I could hold on to at the time, but since, I have been thinking….

    Sometimes, I switch off my phone. Most times I don’t reply to texts in real time, especially ones that upset me because that welcomes bad energy into my space before I have increased my tolerance levels enough to deal. Sometimes, I go back to my flat and sit with the pot of popcorn in bed while watching Being Mary Jane, instead of lunch or social outings. Sometimes, I hang out with people just because I recognise that I need a dose of social interaction after being in my own head too much or I’m bored of my own company. Sometimes, I spend my last R100 on three slabs of chocolate, a chilli cheese burger and a watermelon mcfizz and eat it in one sitting, instead of whatever responsible adult things are required for that week. 

    I think I have mastered having minimal needs but making sure to address them, and sometimes those needs are rent, sometimes its petrol, and sometimes it’s a Cadbury cashew and coconut chocolate or gin but I certainly won’t feel guilty for making either choice.

    The guilt associated with choosing yourself and what you need at a particular point in time over your responsibilities sucks. It is also such a significant internal tension to overcome in order to be functional and the role my friend played in this epiphany was so essential. She didn’t sit and write out my priorities and tell me where to place myself, she didn’t let me leave myself out my priority list then try supplement my lack of self-care herself, she didn’t undermine the importance of all the priorities on my list, she simply asked me to be on it. It is crazy that we need reminding to look after ourselves, and in as much as we can be on other people’s priority lists and know it, there is a key difference and importance for each person to put themselves on their own list. Nothing can supplement for self-love. No one can put you on their list in place of yourself on yours.

    Once you get passed that initial against-the-grain feeling of having your time, space and self, and the I-should-be-xyz-but-not-today-satahn guilt, you bring yourself closer the shift between first and last place according to your needs and life’s demands. 

    Ultimately, you can’t light fires with a burnt out candle…
    Don’t leave yourself behind, you’re going to need you too later.  

    The Voice and The Writer

    The Voice and The Writer

    I think that we are born with many talents, and if we are fortunate to live long enough, we get to explore many of them. I have been fairly far removed from writing, exploring other gifts that I suppose landed in my lap. I had always thought that if I had to start speaking my mind as opposed to writing, it would be as a performance poet, but as ironic as life would have it, it has been as a mystery voice through an electronic machine. In pursuing this and finishing law, writing somehow got lost in all the new found talents of the voice.

    In the stormy months before I had to vacate from being a voice and in between mourning and longing, I found myself in this quiet place where the warm regards, condolences, and hugging hands can’t reach. I found myself watching  poems again and somehow found myself conversing with my writer self.

    For the first few minutes I didn’t recognize her, at first she showed herself in small bits and pieces. Her reflection faded in a half empty bottle of red wine, and clung against the gulp of the white tablets it washed down. Her familiar songs, loud in the clutter in my head, in the frantic panic to find something or someone destructive enough to destroy herself with before she drowned. She was always a strange one, would always rather pick a weapon of choice, gale winds, and Iceberg, or a ravenous storm than accept that her ship was actually not built for these waters and was sinking. She would rather let them blame the winds than let them know that, all the while they thought her ship was floating, there was a hurricane in her with a gravitational pull stronger than the waters that carried her. She was a hurricane woman, trying to stay afloat forgetting that she had the force to propel her way out the storm.

    It is strange, suddenly, I see the young girl in me, who couldn’t make sense of the storms that life kept hitting her with, so she held on to a pen. She wrote, but didn’t tell the pen her secrets, she wrote away the voices in order to find her own on paper, she wrote away the several showers a day that hid away the tears, she wrote away the silence she had given her pen once she discovered her voice, she wrote away many things, stripped them carefully of their meaning until all the omissions wrote her back into existence.

    And there in the quiet, sweet centre, she found the girl that held on to pen for dear life, where pen was the shore and the navigation needle, where pen was the needle and ink was the fix for a hurricane trying to set sail, in a boat.

    The Contour Tutorial

    The Contour Tutorial

    I think that in a world where your hair is forced into being straight with chemicals as opposed to coiled and natural from as early as the age of three. It says something to you from a very young age, it says that you are to be corrected, that you are born wrong and your hair must be fixed into submission, and “fixing” it is making it look straight and flowing not stiff and coiled.
    I remember how in primary school, we always used to refer to the peach-coloured crayon/pencil as “skin colour”, I remember how all my people were always drawn in “skin colour”, and not brown because I was a five year old regurgitating the norms that surrounded me and failed to recognise my own brown skin as my norm. I’m half chuckling right now remembering this picture I once won some art competition for in nursery school. It was a picture of me riding a horse on the beach in the sunset, and my mom has somehow kept it all these years. In the picture my skin is light brown and I have long blonde hair… it was almost like five year old me had never looked in a mirror. I knew I didn’t look like that, but I thought that was what I was meant to look like because that was the standard that surrounded me.

    From a little black girl who played with white dolls and read books about little kids with blonde hair and blue eyes, it makes me question how deep one has to dig to find the identity of black and then of woman and merge the two when none is found in the literature (magazines and school books) we use to educate little black girls.

    The other day (basically how this train of thought came to me), I was sitting and doing my make up, as I sat there contouring my nose- it hit me… the essence of contouring your nose is to make it look more pointy and highlight the bridge, but of course my nose is flat and wide. Here I was, a full grown black woman and still correcting myself into European beauty norms… These are hard things to unlearn. We are raising little black girls constantly  telling them that they are wrong through correcting their speech, their grammar, their bodies, hair and overall looks into whiteness. And there is nothing wrong with whiteness but constantly trying to ‘whitefy’ the black girl by implication, says how wrong she is for being born black and female.

    While typing this I randomly decided to do a little experiment, which you are more than welcome to try too, I insist. I typed a google image search with the words “beautiful women”, and the entire first three page were different shades of white women and two of black women with long straight hair. Eight search pages later, not a single black woman with natural hair.I  was gutted. I tried again, this time searching just “women” and still, hundreds of white faces and one or two black faces. Perhaps it is a silly experiment, but it spoke volumes for what the norm is for how the world conditions little black girls to see themselves through white lenses.

    This took me back to a heart breaking quote I once saw, “black woman is the nigger of the world”.

    Our self love is hard, it has to be forcefully deliberate and it almost amounts to defiance just to acknowledge your flat nose, melanin skin, full lips, midnight eyes,  and hair that coils and defies gravity.Loving yourself as a black woman is a challenge and protest in a institutionally sexist and racist world.

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    *images not my own

    The Try

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    (I have often struggled with saying the word depression in a sentence. I hated the things it was always associated with: I was not weak, I had just lost my ability to be strong; I was not sad, I was just unhappy, anxious, frustrated, angry and guilty; I didn’t slit my wrists, but I self harmed by putting myself in situations that I knew would inflict emotional harm; I didn’t want to die, I just didn’t want to actively participate in living my life.

    Depression is the type of killer that keeps his hands clean while turning you against yourself. It has you holding yourself hostage at gunpoint, asking for a ransom price of love and rescue.  And those around you don’t even know how many battles you face in your own head, before the actual battle of life starts. How you beat yourself up over everything, but long to be saved from your own self.

    Depression is actually a smart killer too, It kills their victims in such a way that most, actually do not die, until it is by natural causes. It cowardly scavenges on insecurities and paranoia. It merely taunts its victims, daily, quietly, violently without the world knowing. You live out your entire life course feeling guilty about  being alive, frustrated by how life is and too cowardly to end it, and sadly some do.

    It is a mental disorder, it is much like trying to convince people that a beautifully furnished house with a white picket fence is actually haunted. Ghosts don’t exclusively occupy old, run-down houses, they can occupy beautiful new homes too, because, well, we all have shadows equal to our light.

    Like Aids, and Cancer, there is no cure, despite the fact that it is often treated like an “imagined” illness. Anti-depressants, therapy, and anxiety medication are coping mechanisms but happiness cannot be produced and packaged in a science lab. Some battles are of the spirit (not restricted to Christianity).

    The night I wrote this –over a year ago was darker than most. If ever you relate, I hope you have the courage to identify all your demons before you try fight them, I hope you address them all and negotiate peace with those that can’t be won over yet. Never deny any battle that you are facing because society shames it as weak, there is no dignity in suffering silently and God-willing, someday it will be a little less harder to be alive)

    Last night… you took all the pills you had in your possession
    You stacked the guilt in the hollow of your spine and rose up to stare accusingly at your reflection, you pushed your chest out, filled with yellow pus and blood from the bruises when you beat your heart for its stupidity. You stretched the folds in your shoulder blades, and felt the tiny spears of tension stretch with it.

    You held your grief like a stillborn infant and cradled it with your fingers intertwined, so that its coldness rested on your palms. You stared accusingly at your grief as though to resuscitate the depth back into its ice-cold eyes.

    You stacked all the will you had in your possession against all the colourful pills you owned, and you stared at the clutter, taking all 87 of them with your eyes, but your hands did not move. Your tears they burst like army jets leaving base for war and collided underneath your chin to fall somewhere and dry, even they looked accusingly at you, wondering where your will was to wipe them away.

    Your breathing, it left like a frail blind prisoner feeling his way against a stone cold dungeon, like sand through an hour glass pushing up the a tiny cylinder instead of falling down. And the time, it stood still didn’t it?

    10pm: you wondered what the world would think. The phone call to your mother earlier, how you had woken her, and how she said she had failed as a mother when she heard you crying, you sniffed and told her your were okay. She would die if you did. Maybe she would stay alive as brittle skin, but her frame, her structures and hard cavaties would dissolve at your death and you know it. She put everything she had in your creation, she thought it would be safe there, she watered you with her own failed attempts as lessons for your life. She woke to dress you in blankets you had refused while awake so she could have something to keep warm. She gave everything to you -and to take this one thing from yourself, would take everything away from her.

    You remember a poem about depression, and the suicide notes starting with the lines “I’m sorry but I really, really tried” but don’t reach for paper or pen because you think you didn’t try to live. You dragged yourself through survival, so actually… you’re not even worthy of death… You talk loudly to yourself. Silently, you say to yourself, “You don’t have the balls to do it” and you don’t argue back. You know. You just wanted to go, as close to the edge as possible to scare yourself into running back, but it didn’t work. Instead, you sat by the edge taunting your cowardness to jump.

    You yell, “Where the hell are you god” with the entirety of your chest cavity but no sound comes out, its all just air pressing against the lining of your rib cage. You take out your bible and threaten god, “say something before I do something stupid, don’t you freakin’ care… don’t you care?!”

    “Tell me you want me to live god...” you sit, dead still, bible in hand, hoping you angered god enough with your cussing and blasphemy for him to say something; turn you into a salt statue, strike you with instant blindness; set the pot plants outside your window on fire; talk to you… but nothing. Silence. You want to be close to Him, you want to pray and you will take His physical wrath in place of intangible blessings as means to feel He exists. You open your bible with an accusing glare at psalm 71, where god keeps silent about your anger. You read and reread the words searching for a crease or raised eyebrow on His face and find nothing, you close you bible and say nothing.

    Brown and yellow antibiotic capsules, round yellow painkillers, white round painkillers, red anti-inflammatories. Tiny orange and brown multivitamin pebbles, tiny green iron tablets. Brazapen.  A tray of green painkillers with two missing. One and a half trays of depramil. You scoop them up in your hands. You run through a list of people you can tell about this, who will tie themselves to something solid and come get you, but you just don’t want the world to know.

    In the belly of the dawn, where the silence had swallowed and silenced, you pack up your pills into their separate zip lock bags, and crawl your puffy eyes into bed to sleep.

    You’ll try again tomorrow