You don’t manage a team as if you’re the only person on the team. Whether you manage a huge corporation, church band or if you’re the captain of a sports team, or even the head waitress at a restaurant, all the same rules and principles apply.
You cannot run a business or a company withouthuman capital. If you have a team of five, everyone on that team should be valued.
Communication is key in any management situation.
You cannot exclude the “little guys” from big decisions. Truth be told, there are no ‘little guys’. You don’t have meetings and make decisions and apply changes with only those who hold fancy titles or with the people in your close circle when those same decisions affect so many other people.
When you start excluding people and start isolating them, you cut off the valuable insight that could grow your business or change your perspective.
That is the thing about being a good manager and a good leader; you need to be able to listen and you also need to be able to admit when you’re wrong.
Just because you are in a leadership position, does not mean you are always right.
Not providing a communicative platform for those who work for you, will be detrimental not only for your business and your team but also for your reputation.
I’ve seen many real-life examples of people who are meant to lead, take the people that they are leading, for granted.
In fact, I’ve been in that situation and it troubles me that it happens so often.
If you are not going to take care of the people who work for you, they will either leave the business, betray you (in extreme cases) or just refuse to deliver excellent work.
But can you imagine what the world would be like if we all pulled our resources and talents together and worked in an environment that was conducive to the ultimate productivity all of us possess?
Can you imagine what we could create?
If you are a leader, CEO, or supervisor of any team or business in any sort of context, even the head of your family, you need to realise that your ultimate capital are the people who work for you, the people you lead, the family you are taking care off and the people who surround you and look up to you.
Do not ignore the people who do not have fancy, high-level titles. Nurture them, speak to them, get to know them, and find out where their strength lie and how you can work together (keyword being “together) in order to use those strengths and talents to the advantage of everyone involved and to the success of your business.
Not everyone has the same personality; you have people who are more outspoken than others, and then you have people who are more sensitive than others or people who do not speak as much, which can make them more susceptible to hurt feelings when being criticised. As a leader, it is your responsibility to nurture and understand how the minds and personalities of those who work for you, work. Meaning, you need to get to know those who work for you.
LISTEN AND LEARN
People become more open to share and discuss ideas when they feel they are being listened to. Don’t immediately shut down ideas when they are being presented. It might not be exactly what you want or what you are looking for but simply dismissing someone’s idea or thoughts, is a recipe for disaster and in simple terms, it’s just rude.
Find creative ways to implement ideas from various people but try and make everyone feel involved. Find ways to help people open up more in a comfortable and safe environment.
Once you’ve established that environment, you’ll find that so many people start enjoying their work and confidence starts building within those very people and when someone has confidence, they become more eager to produce. Give people the space and freedom to believe in themselves.
Bitterness causes friction and favoritism amongst the team members which is a breeding ground for tension and eventual failure.
People want to feel valued. We want to feel and know that we matter and that we are contributing. If we don’t have that, we somehow end up doubting ourselves and question our purpose on this earth.
As a leader, you have the power to make that feeling a reality for so many people. Once you impact one person, it spreads. Before you know it, your legacy has grown and touched people you have never even met.
Use your power wisely and grow more responsible leaders.
I’ve always had this fear of confrontation. Speaking to people or addressing issues with people that bother me or put me in an uncomfortable position. I get nervous when I simply think about speaking my mind about certain things of which I have an opinion. I’m that person at the restaurant that will eat the wrong order that the waiter or waitress brings me. I am also a chronic over-apologiser or if you will, a knee-jerk apologist ; I constantly say sorry for things that certainly do not need an apology. Instead of saying ‘Excuse me, if I need to pass by someone, I would say, “I’m sorry”. I would rather write a long letter or text message, than confront you face-to-face.
At times I find myself apologizing for apologizing in the first place.
In an article byPsychology Today, it speaks about the different types of people who apologise. It also referred to a 2010 study that indicated women tend to apologise more than men.
“A 2010 study found that women apologize more than men. Women also self-report committing more offenses, or engaging in behavior that warranted apologies, than men. Do women simply misbehave more than men? Not exactly. The study found that men and women have markedly different thresholds of what constitutes an offense deserving an apology. Women have a lower threshold; men have a much higher one. In other words, women see more acts for which we must apologize than men do; we see more of the things we do as wrong, out of line, inappropriate, or hurtful. A man and woman may do exactly the same thing but regard it differently; she will see it as an offense that requires an apology and he may not.”
I get this uncomfortable feeling in my gut, like a knot when I think about confrontation. Even after I’ve said something or on the rare occasion that I do address an issue, it would sit with me for hours afterward and I would replay conversations or try and think what I could have said or done differently or maybe what I should not have said. I would have second-hand embarrassment for even doing it. Sometimes I find myself simply typing something on a Whatsapp group and instantly regretting it once I hit send.
I can’t tell you where this fear emanated from; there wasn’t a specific day or event when I decided that I will fear confrontation and I won’t tell you either that I am working on it. I guess I simply get used to certain settings even though I still get nervous or anxious, even when I know I’m not doing or saying anything wrong.
There have been situations where I have accepted an outcome when I knew it was wrong. In that situation, I did not retaliate or address the issue, even though it sat heavily on my heart.
I need to specify that the confrontation I am speaking about is not the aggressive / physically violent confrontation. Kathy Caprino in an article for Forbes writes the following:
I know it takes bravery to speak your mind and say what you think or feel. There have been times when I’ve been told that I let people walk all over me and maybe I can be labelled as a ‘people pleaser’ or even weak but I don’t see myself that way. I just want to save my fight for when it matters.
Sometimes people tend to get into verbal confrontations which end up going nowhere; you interact with people who love the sound of their own voice more than the actual topic at hand and more than they try to reach a reasonable conclusion based on facts. There are some people that you simply cannot win an argument with and at times, it’s not worth the breath that you waste on that confrontation or argument.
TIPS TO DEAL WITH CONFRONTATION
I’ve found some amazing references on positive or healthy confrontation. Here are some tips to get over the fear of confrontation in no particular order:
There are many other ways in which we can work through our fear of confrontation, but always try and determine if the situation calls for a confrontation or simply for a nod and a smile. It might save you a lot of unnecessary long-term conflict.
There is a saying I love that goes;
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt”
Sometimes it is better to be silent and other times it’s best to speak up; we just need to know when is the right time for which action.
I find myself beingterribly emotionallately, I’m always choking on tears and having to look away when I’m in a public space. I’m both sad and happy. Both grieving and celebrating. Both fearful and brave.
Everything that has happened over the last year and 8 months is indescribable I’m still sad that we lost our mom and I relive that sadness every time I hear or read about someone elsedyingor someone else losing a loved one.
I cry for everyone who is hurting and I cry for everyone who has survived. I cry for everyone who don’t know which direction to turn and who feel as if the world is just dark.
It’s as if the sadness has latched on to me but then I experience joy and peace and happiness, I feel hope and I feel as if I can conquer anything.
‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, he rescues those whose spirits are crushed’ – Psalm 34 vs 18
There is something greater at work in the world. We may not understand it and maybe it’s best if we don’t. It’s already enough that we experience these things, can you imagine being able to dissect the intricacies of God’s plan. Our minds would probably literally be blown.
I’ve also been experiencing a great sense of gratitude. I realise how blessed I am and how full my life is. I do not take it for granted. I love my family so much, seeing my kids happy and seeing my husband happy brings me so much joy. Sometimes it feels as if I can’t handle it and that too, makes me cry.
Maybe this is just a season of feeling. Understanding that we are all vulnerable and that we are all afraid sometimes and that we all have something or someone to lose. It’s a season of cleansing, cleaning out the cobwebs of our life. Taking stock of what’s important.
Yes, it hurts. Its painful to carry on when you’ve born the brunt of so much loss. Sometimes, it can make you feel guilty. I’ve experienced that. Feeling guilty for being happy when so many others are suffering. Your happiness shouldn’t be a source of personal guilt. It should be a light in the dark to those who can’t see the way.
I have to admit, it took me a while to really sit down and read this book. I think mostly because of the subject of the book; mental wellness or if you like mental health. It shouldn’t be surprising that so many of us suffer with some form of mental terror; depression, anxiety and sometimes we deal with feelings, thoughts and situations that can’t be described. When I started readingLetting In The Light; I felt a sense of coming home, a feeling of being welcomed into someone’s heart with open arms.
The foreword by Pick Me Up Poetryfounder, Webster Chagonda encompasses this feeling so well;
“Remember, darkness will always make way for the day, and wherever your mind may lead you, I hope these poems become your place of refuge.”
It’s difficult for me to tell which one of the poems are my favourite; there are pieces of each poem that speak directly to me.
They are all relatable and also somewhat confrontational but quite necessary,
“A fleeting moment of peace
as you cease to wonder when the next red drought will dry out this puddle
And if you won’t have drowned in the depth of your head until then”
When I read through the poems, I realised that so many people understand the feelings and circumstances around one topic. I felt safe reading it and saying to myself, “It’s okay to feel this way”
It truly is a stunning body of work with a beautiful use of words, descriptive methods and metaphors. It is almost as if what you’re reading is being carved on your skin. That is how deep the words go.
“Everywhere you walk, you will be a constellation of footsteps”
The anthology sheds light on all the parts of your life that is affected by depression; your mind, body, soul, family, friends and your career an daily life.
“I am ready to recite myself into existence. I am ready to tell anxiety a prophecy even though I sometimes don’t believe”
I want to encourage you to get this book. The words will speak to us all differently and once you get into it, you’ll realise its not just a book you can read once off. You can always go back and remind yourself that you are not alone in your darkness when you feel overwhelmed.
“I was bound by the plight of life and could not get away. I was blinded by the pain of this fight and could not see my way but I heard Hope’s gentle whistle and Joy’s hearty squeal, gently fanning the embers of my heart”
Well done to all the poets who contributed their words, feelings and experiences to this book. Thank you for being brave and baring it all on the pages.
Congratulations to the publishers, Chasing Dreams Publishing and everyone who worked to put this amazing body of work together.
Watching Connie Ferguson at her husband’sfuneralbroke my heart. I can’t imagine saying goodbye to my husband of only 4 months, imagine the pain she feels of losing her best friend and life partner of 20 years. Death is such a painful experience and before I lost my mom, I couldn’t really relate to anyone who lost another person. I couldn’t understand that grief and pain. I couldn’t fathom the emptiness and now I see and feel it all around me, almost on a daily basis.
It’s painful to read, report or hear of someone dying, it’s heart-shattering. When someone you love dies, a part of you dies with them. There is constant emptiness, a dark and hollow feeling. You can never shake it and you live with it all your life. It rocks you to your core and breaks every resolve you’ve ever had. Then you have to rebuild. You need to start again.
Something that is beautiful though is love, love makes the memories that you carry worth all the pain that you feel. Memories and the feelings associated with that person, makes it bearable.
What this death has reminded me of, is that we run out of time.
We do not live forever.
The time that we have on this earth is more than precious, it is sacred.
The people we have in our lives, the ones we love and cherish and adore, are the ones that deserve all that we have to offer.
We cannot afford to be selfish and arrogant. We can’t live in a way where anger and hatred dominate our lives.
Say ‘I love you’ as often as you can and mean it.
Enjoy every minute you can breathe.
Laugh as much as possible and love even more.
Create art and enjoy it too.
Live each moment as if it’s your last. It might sound like a cliché, but it doesn’t make it any less true.
Every single day we hear or read about someone dying. They become a number in the statistics and leave a hole in the hearts of people who loved them. Every single day when we hear of someone losing their lives; whether to Covid-19 or something else, our hearts break a little more. You don’t need to know the person who has died. You simply need to have a sense of humanity and compassion to know that somewhere in the world, someone is left reeling from the death of a loved one.
The entire world is sad. We feel it all around us and see it on the news, we hear it from strangers. We see it in the tear-filled eyes of our friends. Some of us live it daily. It doesn’t seem to end.
As I write this, I’m sitting in my kids’ bedroom, on the floor and the picture of my late mother is right in front of me. I moved it to their bedroom a couple of nights ago because my 6-year-old daughter wascrying in her bed. After all, she was missing her Ouma. She too, is sad, having lost her grandmother just over a year ago.
The sadness seeps into our lives, our work, creativity, our ability or lack thereof to be in social settings. It’s in our bodies and minds as we lay on the couch, watching yet another episode of a Netflix series that ends up adding to the melancholy. You might think this post is so depressing but, the truth is, we are all living in a perpetual state of sadness. Denying that will do no good to anyone. It’s okay to be sad, don’t dismiss anyone’s feelings simply because it doesn’t fit into the narrative of the day.
But just because we are sad doesn’t mean we can’t have hope.
Earlier today: It’s Saturday afternoon, the house is quiet, the wind is howling outside, keeping the sun company. It seems like a good time to reflect on the last year.
I’m braiding my hair and thinking about this time of year. Last year (2020) we lost our mother. It was a Friday and she died in a car on her way to the clinic, my then boyfriend (now husband) right next to her. A shift happened then and a shift is happening now. My husband, sick with Covid-19 and myself, also sick but I haven’t tested for Covid-19 at the time of this post but we’re treating the situation as if I am sick with Covid too. Though I feel strong enough to clean the house and make sure we have something to eat, I still don’t really feel like myself.
All these health issues have done a very good job of distracting me from what day it is. The day my mother died. I’m not feeling incredibly sad or melancholic when I think about it; I feel a sense of peace, maybe even gratitude, that we as a family have been able to make it through the last 12 months in one piece and then some. We had an addition to the family with my niece, we had a wedding and we had the birth of our company. Those are quite huge life milestones. It just goes to show that life really does go on after the death of a loved one, at least if you let it.
Still in the quiet of the house, I wonder to myself, why is it that these shifts or life-changing events seemed to have happened around the same time for the past 2 years and I can’t help but wonder will something else happen next year around this time? I also don’t really want to question why these things are happening and happening in the way they are and around the time they are. I understand that no one truly knows the inner workings of time so I simply want to breath and say, “Thank you Lord” .
Something that has really stood out for me during this time of isolation over the past several days, is the kindness of people; everyone we care about checking in on us and bringing us food. That especially has reminded me of the week when my mother died; everyone brought us food and groceries so that we didn’t still have to worry about that. I’m really grateful to all the people who have come through for us during this time.
With that said, I’d like to share 12 things I’ve learned in the last 12 months since my mother died.
It’s okay not to feel in control.
You can cry whenever and wherever you need to.
Change will always come, don’t fight it.
Nothing ever goes the way we expect or plan, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared.
It’s okay to feel the ‘bad’ feelings; fear, sadness, anger, frustration ect.
You won’t always succeed at everything you take on and that’s okay.
You are allowed to want to be alone.
Grief throws you into an unending spiral of self-confrontation.
Cooking or baking is therapeutic.
Love is all there is. It will get you through your darkest nights and brightest days.
Don’t waste the time you have. You won’t get a refund.
There comes a moment in a woman’s life, it comes quietly and without even knowing it is the time or her time she will remember her voice. She will reclaim her voice and she will banish all societal, cultural, and perhaps even self-inflicted shackles, which bound and gag her into living a life half lived and burying her truth, to make the world around her more comfortable with the woman she is.
My moment, my time, it came. it took more than a decade, but it came. The truth and pain and the absolute undoing of who and what I was, bided its time in the deepest parts of me, seemingly gone, seemingly forgotten, it even had me fooled and lulled into believing I was living my most authentic self. That I had erased that young girl, everything her body and soul and brain endured. I convinced myself it was a thing of the past. Plus, I reasoned, what would be the point! It’s over and done. I am okay and alive and thriving. I am living as I have never lived before. I lived so large that I dwarfed the girl and the victim that resided within me into virtual nothingness. Or so I thought.
But you see trauma, both physical and emotional is something that can never be forgotten or erased. It is ingrained in the very pores of your skin; every fibre of your being. In your every cell, the memory of trauma not just lingers, it festers, it rots, it poisons, and it kills. And you won’t even know it. Those feelings of helplessness, of utter and complete hopelessness, the tears that ebb and flow with the slightest provocation, the physical pain that you feel in your chest, the waking up to face a new day with such rage inside your heart, then dissolving into a dark abyss that beckons for you to come to lay there and never leave. The voice that cajoles inside your head, that to stop breathing, to stop living would be the ultimate high, the only way to end this inexplicable thing that you are feeling.
And it was inexplicable to me for a long time. I had a great job. As one of a few Indian female television news reporters on a national television station at the time between 2005 and 2012, (ETVnow ENCA) my face was a recognisable one, my name a respected one (at least that’s the feedback I got) I drove a beautiful car, I lived a good life, I had my pick of intelligent, successful, beautiful men. I partied hard, I worked even harder. Man, my life was good. Better than good. I made sure I was seen and heard. I made sure I was felt. I made sure I was in control.
I knew just how to vanquish and remain willfully vulnerable to keep men and women around me comfortable in my presence. Knowing how to dominate and yet remain docile enough to ensure men and women around me would never know who and what I was, was something I did well. So clever and so in control; so why would someone like me feel I was constantly being held in a stranglehold by emotions and feelings of complete and utter worthlessness and desolateness?
LIVING WITH TRAUMA AND PAIN
Trauma travels. Pain sits patiently. These things cannot and should not ever be denied. Not to oneself and not to others and certainly not to the person or people who have inflicted it. Trauma waits. Pain travels. Through time, through all the spaces and roles you live and fulfill, these things cannot and will not be denied or doused. Because anything suppressed must and will erupt. It is in nature as it is inside our bodies.
My name is Vanessa, I am forty-four years old. I am a mother of three and an author; I am a journalist (even though I quit mainstream journalism in 2012 anyone in this profession knows you can leave journalism, but it never leaves you). I am so many things to so many people and have been so many things to so many people. And for the greater part of my little more than four decades on this earth, I have been nothing to myself. A fake and a fraud, living and lying to keep the façade of the woman I convinced myself, the world would rather see and know. And I excelled. Man, I was damn good. So, I thought.
But the cracks were showing and soon it would rip open, and it would be both a profoundly powerful release and the most debilitating thing, that would compel me to finally acknowledge and see myself in all my nakedness, every fading scar both on my skin and the ones that remained stubbornly in my brain. It was December 1999, I was 22 years old when one word; YES, would come to kill that young, naïve, and dare I say wonderfully wild-spirited girl I was.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
I was a rookie radio news reporter at the SABC based in Durban. I was damn lucky to have gotten into one of the biggest broadcasting companies in the country, fresh out of Technikon, a diploma to my name and big dreams in my head. That is where I met my boyfriend. He was a DJ on Lotus FM (a radio station owned by the SABC that catered to a predominantly Indian audience). He would become my first intimate partner. He would become my first boyfriend. He would become my worst nightmare. It was barely a month into our relationship when he first struck me. I was sitting in the front seat of his car, he was ranting and shouting like a madman, saliva flying out of his mouth. This was new to me. I had no reason to feel that I was in any danger when his arm with a fist formed at the end reached out and punched me in the chest.
I am not sure if that hurt or whether it was the fact that he had just punched me that hurt more. Time is clever that way, it can make you forget the physical pain, but it will never let you forget every minute painful detail. Of course, I couldn’t believe what had just happened to me. Perhaps more shocking was that this person who portrayed himself as such a charming, affable, affluent man, this DJ who never missed an opportunity to talk about his fame or the women that would throw themselves at him, had just done something that surely menof this caliber and stature didn’t do!
He cried, he apologised. He even said that he wouldn’t blame me if I left him. So, I did what every good girl is subversively conditioned to do; I apologised, comforted him, and promised that I would not leave him, because you see shortly after delivering that punch, he also declared that he loved me. Two big, monumental firsts within minutes of each other. My first punch from my boyfriend and the first I love you from the same man. By accepting both, I had made a pact with a human being so profoundly evil that it would become impossible to leave, to walk away. For a little more than five years, this became symptomatic of our turbulent and deeply troubled relationship.
Don’t get me wrong for one second, there were good times and great times during our years together. We drank. We partied. We laughed. We talked. There would always be extravagant gifts, soft-spoken beguiling words gently handed over after the manic, violent barrage of slaps, punches, kicks, and vile insults. He was always sorry. You see he loved me so much that when he felt he couldn’t get through to me, it would drive him to these violent displays of his love and passion.
Deep inside me, the anger and hatred grew. Insidiously snaking its way, poisoning me, suffocating me…… killing me. Slowly I began to shift and continuously shape myself, making myself smaller, lowering my voice, quietening my thoughts and opinions, stifling my spirit. Together we worked to all but destroy me. Him with his violence. Me with my desire to please and keep the peace.
I am starting to feel sad now, angry again, remembering this. Every time I do this I purge myself a little more. But where I once tried to suppress pain and emotions, where I once convinced myself silence and forgetting is the bitter salve to soothe the shredded soul, I now know, this myth that women are force-fed is not to serve them, not to help them, but to protect not just their abusers but the toxic system that enables men to perpetuate their evil with carefree abandon and their gatekeepers (some of whom are women).
You see even after releasing my memoir Beaten but Not Broken, I thought there would be some miraculous healing. Like all the bad emotions and the tears and the feelings of wanting to end my life would be over. Boy was I wrong. Remembering and writing not only resurrected every horrible thing that was done to me during my violent love affair with the radio jock, but it also forced me to face myself. To finally embrace all the trauma and pain and to mourn and grieve. And it was a catastrophic revelation and cataclysmic release.
The body and brain demand of us not to deny and deprive but to hold space for ourselves. Healing is not meant to be a seamless and clean process. It is messy, it is crippling, and it is monumentally debilitating. But in all of that you remember you, you remember yourself, who you were before someone tried to break and bind you, kill and quell you. From ashes, beautiful things can be built and beautiful things can emerge. A little spent, a little bent, but hey what can be more powerful and more breath-taking than being able to live with absolute truth and honesty. To not be held hostage or blackmailed by fear and trauma.
But I omitted to tell you one minor detail in all of this. For all my bravado. For all the courage I was praised for having to write this book and speak my truth. I was still being dishonest. And dishonesty my friend does not have to be a blatant lie. Dishonesty is also the withholding of information. I wrote about losing my virginity in the back seat of his car (bearing in mind I come from a very conservative community where sex before marriage is seen as a disgrace for young women) I shared intimate details of everything. But one thing. And without even knowing this withholding that one thing still kept me enslaved to my fears to the system that demanded I shut up. That I go quietly.
And when eventually I would say the name of my abuser during an online web discussion, that was when I had finally been able to stand up and say I have spoken my truth. It was only then I felt this sudden and overwhelming release. I could breathe again; I could taste the air and inside a quiet stillness settled. I had taken back my power. I had finally remembered who and what I was.
Oh, saying his name did come with some drama. He threatened to sue. He issued a statement claiming I had a vendetta and was obsessed with him. Hell, he even got his wife to speak on his behalf to a local newspaper in which she claimed she did not know me, and I was making a public spectacle of myself. A woman who proclaimed to be an advocate for women’s rights and against gender violence, publically condemning another woman for daring to break the silence. I was not quite sure if I should find it funny or fundamentally tragic.
You see I did the very same thing for him back when we were together. When my own family would ask about the bruises and scars that often adorned my face and body. I lied. When I was confronted with questions if he was abusing me, I lied. I said he couldn’t do that. That he would never do that. So, I feel for this woman. I was once her. I want to judge her and be angry with her. But I am looking at her through the eyes of the woman I have become and not the girl I used to be. And that is not a fair thing to do. She has not done anything I didn’t once do for this man.
But there are far too many people claiming to be gender activists or againstGBVbut when faced with assertions of the crime against men they may know, who are family, friends, or even current partners are quick to shun survivors. If we are to accept rape and gender violence exists and it does because the mangled bodies, some burnt, some strung from trees, some tossed in rubbish heaps like garbage, some that are never even found, tell us it exists, our own experiences prove it exists, then we must also accept that men we know are guilty of this. Yes, we know it’s not all men but seeing as we don’t know which men, we will assume all men for the sake of our safety. Women are not raping and killing themselves. Women are not beating themselves up.
NO MORE SILENCE!
When my abuser’s lawyers’ letter did come some months later asking for an apology and retraction, I told my lawyer he could “f-off and die” of course she found a more eloquent way of putting it in our responding letter. We also urged my abuser to pursue the legal action he threatened both on social media and in the newspapers, as it would allow all the facts and my assertions to be aired and vented in a court of law. We also requested an address to which we could serve an application of our own.
That letter was sent in late last year. It’s now nearly June 2021 and we have yet to receive a response. You see abusers never stop. Just look at how many so-called influential men have been outed. Social media had provided a powerful platform for survivors to break the silence.
No, we are not looking for attention! We just no longer want to keep the secrets of our abusers and rapists. It’s not our job to protect these miscreants. NO, it is not a trend for women to speak out! We just get courage every time one of us breaks the silence, we realise justice cannot always be found in a court of law and that the system is not designed to help women get justice but rather to make it intrinsically difficult for them.
NO, we don’t want to destroy our abusers and rapists or their happy families. We believe they did that themselves the moment they decided to physically or sexually hurt us. And the moment they raped, abused, or killed; they lost every single right to carry on their lives as if nothing happened while women are forced to carry the cross of trauma every single second they breathe.
No, we are not looking for pity! We have shed our tears, sometimes some of us have even tried to permanently forget by trying to end our lives. We don’t need pity. We need the good guys, the good people, those around us to act!
My abuser despite also having had charges brought against him by another woman and for revenge porn and assault and which was later dropped, despite the written indictment of my experience, was still employed by a local community radio station. NO, we don’t need the bullshit rhetoric that’s spewed out during every 16 days of activism or women’s month. Yes, the radio station called on women to break the silence yet chose to ignore women when they spoke out against their newly acquired DJ.
Some may say what is the point then of breaking the silence. Some may say move on. Some may say get over it. Some may say tone it down. Some may say mind your language. Some may say forget about it. Some may even try to gaslight you “you have a good life now. You have everything now. Why bring up the past.” I am here to give you some well-earned advice; Screw them!
STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GREAT WOMEN
Anyone who has your interest would never try to silence you. It serves no one, least of all you, to remain silent. I may never see it in my lifetime. A world where women can walk safely, can go out at night without fear of being raped, wear what she wants without being blamed for any violence meted out against her. A world where even our babies won’t be violated. A world where men who rape and beat up women, who sexually harass, and harangue women are shamed and shunned and become an extinct species.
I will not see that world before I die. But I am going to do all I can to make it easier for even just one other woman to reclaim her power, remember her voice and break the barricades they have been building around us for centuries to keep us suppressed and subjugated.
I will always be in fear of my abuser. Men like that never change. I am no martyr, but I am a mother. And I am obligated because of that to speak and never stop because I am you, young lady reading this. The shame is not yours. It never was. The fear, yes totally understandable and very necessary. Because without fear we cannot act to save ourselves and those around us. That which you have feared, who you have feared, must now live in fear of you. The truth does indeed set you free. I no longer live with the threat of someone outing me. I did that myself. And it’s the most damn powerful thing I have done.
There comes a time in a woman’s life when she must and will abandon propriety for ownership of herself and her life. The voices of survivors are shifting this world on its very axis…. but it requires more and more, and we know there are so many more out there, fighting back tears, keeping up the façade of their lives disintegrating because that’s just not what GOOD GIRLS DO! Don’t be a good girl. Be a damn GREAT WOMAN …. And speak, take your time, breathe, remember, mourn, grieve, speak…. We are all here waiting to take your hand and hold you. Heal yourself and save another. It is not weakness to weep, it is to show yourself the ultimate self-respect.
So, speak. Others have gone before you, they are your shields. We have taken the barrage of criticism, of denials, of threats, of disbelief, we have dodged the venom of judgment and we are still standing. They are afraid of the voice of your truth of what you have survived of what you embody. Our very existence is a damning indictment of the ordeals we have endured and the people who have inflicted them on us.
Do you know whilst you tremble in fear, it is you who are being feared? Slay the monster, defeat the devil, use your words, use your voice, it is far more powerful than any fist raised against you. Your tears are never in vain, they will stain more than the blood drawn from you. They can violate your body, desecrate your soul but you always hold the power, because you are a walking living testimony to the genocide you have survived. The genocide on women of this country and world. Nothing can erase that truth. Nothing can diminish that power. And therein lies the salvation of every single survivor.
God’s love is sacrifice. The most obvious and clear example of that sacrificial love is God giving His only son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus was God’s ultimate sacrifice, and still today Jesus continues to be a sacrifice for us because He continues to take our sins upon himself. That is how much Jesus loves us. He thinks of us first before he considers himself.
In Philippians 2 vs 3 Paul says the following:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves”
I love this verse because it makes things clear; don’t do anything out of selfish desires and humble yourself by thinking of others more important or significant than yourself.
Think of others first. Put others first. Don’t be selfish or do anything out of selfish motives.
That is how God loves us, and that is how we should love one another.
Marriage and love is putting another person’s needs before your own.
“One reason so many couples turn in their rings (get divorced) is because they view marriage as a contract. A contract is a conditional agreement between two or more persons signifying that all parties will do something. Contracts get made for limited periods of time and are based on “if, then” statements. “If they do this, then I’ll do that” People enter into contracts because of what they’ll get out of them.”
MARRIAGE IS A COVENANT
What I’ve learned over the past 2 months of being married is that marriage is not a contract. It is a covenant. The same covenant you enter into when you choose God as your Lord and saviour is the same covenant you enter into when you choose your partner for life. We say vows when we get married and we say them before God.
The author of the plan says:
“A covenant is a divinely created bond meaning it is permanent. It has rules, responsibilities and benefits. Covenants are intimate relationships initiated for the benefit of the other person. In it, the good of the relationship takes precedence over the needs of the individual. This is why covenants make unconditional promises. Basically, it’s where God makes something official in the spiritual realm to be lived out in the physical world. After all, the wedding vows are made “before God” and therefore with God as well as the spouse. To break the covenant with your spouse is to break it with God. “
When you and your spouse are both going into the marriage with the mindset of “I will put you first” both of you will benefit. Marriage cannot and should not be a selfish act.
I love my husband, knowing and understanding that he is God’s child. I love him in a way that’s not suffocating but that gives him the freedom to grow as a man, husband, and father, in all areas of his life. Wanting him to succeed is one of the many reasons I pray for him all the time, more than I do for myself. I truly want to make him happy. I know he wants the same for me. The reason I know this is because we talk about it all the time. Both of us want to make the other happy and that makes us happy and brings us joy. I know when Jared is happy, I feel happy, and I know it’s the same for him.
Jared’s love for me is sacrificial because he always puts my needs before his own, but as his wife, I also need to understand when I have to give more than I take, and that can make all the difference in a marriage.
GOD IS LOVE.
To close, I want to remind you that love is from God. God is love. Loving God means loving people. Loving and accepting your spouse means loving and accepting Jesus.
Let God’s love be the anchor which holds your marriage down.
How do you say goodbye to the person who changed your life forever? I have been forced to find an answer to that question- unprepared and unequipped- on Sunday afternoon upon hearing the news that my publisher and friend, Nadia Goetham, has passed away. Even as I write this tribute, I am still grasping at straws, lost and unable to give you an answer.
NADIA; MORE THAN A FRIEND
Nadia was a journalist, a production manager, a publishing powerhouse, a friend, a sister and a mentor. If I had to use one word to describe Nadia; it would be “beloved”. She crept into your heart and stayed there. Nadia was loved by almost everyone she met. Her charisma and kindness always shone through with every interaction you would have with her.She gave of herself freely expecting nothing in return.
Nadia was also the catalyst behind many dreams coming true. I would know this because there would be no Terry-Ann Adams without Nadia Goetham. My first interaction with Nadia was a life changing email sent very early on a Saturday morning. “We loved your manuscript and I would like to have a chat about it.” I couldn’t believe what I had read. I had given up on my manuscript after rejection and imposter syndrome kicked my ass. When I met with Nadia, we spoke about everything: growing up coloured, living in Joburg, my pregnancy and my manuscript. From that meeting on, we were not just author and publisher but friends- mentor and mentee.
TELL THEM YOU LOVE THEM
The rest is history. My life was changed forever when the world was introduced to Those Who Lived In Cages. Nadia was my biggest cheerleader. She believed in me when I did not believe in myself. She vouched for me, for my work. And the amazing thing is that she did that with all her authors. When she believed in you, she would ride for you like four flat tires.
The literary landscape has lost one of its most valuable members. I weep for the authors that she was yet to discover and for those who loved her. I weep because I don’t know how I will write another story knowing that Nadia will never read it.
She recently tweeted “Tell them you love them, Tell them you love them today.”
My heart goes out to her family, friends and fellow members of the South African literary industry.