Looking back at love

Every year, about two weeks to my birthday I get reflective.

Yesterday I had a grand old “aha”-moment. After an OMG-moment on something I saw on Facebook, a friend said to me: “Why do you have friends like that?” And I said, “It’s not mine! And it was an accidental curser-hover that caused the damage to my retinas.” Cue “aha”-moment.

I think a lot about the advice I would give to my unborn daughters one day. Likely an act of reflection in itself on my younger self. This is what I learnt from my “aha”-moment: You may be blind to the flaws of a man when you are in love. But look at the company he keeps, because you can’t very well be blind to that. Blindness is a nasty side-effect of Love. The lines from the song “Blind” by Aubrey Peeples in Nashville accurately describes it:

Crying under water

Breathing in outer space

Putting faith into something that could never take place

But you give every shard of my heart back to me

Would you come through the wreckage for it’s life to receive?

I’ve been searching for answers

I’ve been workin’ on a cure

I’ve been a slow-song dancer to a rhythm that ain’t pure

I will come around tomorrow and forget yesterday

I will bleed out the sorrow that you put in me today

because I’m going blind.

I look back and time and again, I see “princes” who hang out with skanks and ho’s. He can’t very well be a prince if he hangs out with those quality individuals, now can he? Only Jesus did that and maintained integrity. Man doth not, darling.

It takes me back to my first love… And now I have to remind myself that ended because I was not ready then, and he did not see space for me to become who I am. I must do this to avoid the “The one that got away”-thinking, because I do believe there is no such thing. The right one, won’t leave. Not if dragons came and threatened to incinerate him.

Back to the story, Paul was a tall, handsome man. And he was great at everything. He was the fastest man in Northern Ireland, a self-made business man, and unbelievable creative… wise beyond his years and just all-round remarkable. And Irish. Which I do believe is next to godliness. He was so confident, he was like a lighthouse. The best part was, he loved me.

He loved me kindly, patiently, passionately and committedly. From halfway around the world, he loved me. He literally crossed continents to be with me and flew me to Belfast to be with him. I loved him back, with a love that made me feel red in the face all the time and stunned me to silence. He made me laugh, he indulged my crazy notions and we could make fun of Jeff at work who made his girlfriend a Valentine’s card together, which I think sealed that deal.

Paul was so confident, and he was famous back then in the big city of Belfast because he was an athlete. In South Africa athletes are not famous… unless you violently gun your girlfriend down through a bathroom door. It was just enough fame to make random girls in bars hand him their numbers while I was standing next to him. Brazen hussies! It never made me feel insecure though, because I was so insecure at 22. I was woven together with insecurity. The reason is, it actually brought a sour taste to Paul’s mouth when women did that. He used to say: “Quality. It’s about quality and I don’t mix with that quality human being.” You have to re-read that now with a Northern Irish accent, they have a special roll with the word “quality”. He was a quality human being. The reason I couldn’t say yes to him was because I was so insecure then. I wasn’t trailer park like the brazen hussies, but I was always afraid, that one day he would see the extent of the brokenness and run. And he was the fastest man in Ireland and Scotland, imagine the embarrassment, and the jokes.

My almost 38-year old self knows now that the myriad of breaks let my light shine through so much brighter and that is probably why he loved me with Yeats-like zeal. Alas, had I settled in Belfast and raised many blue-eyed offspring, I would not be here. I would not know me the way he saw me, and that’s the real gift.

Over the next two weeks, I plan a clean out, clear up and reboot. It feels like Yesterday is still lingering in corners of my consciousness, like stale dust.

I am too good for that. I am quality. And a prince can tell if you are quality. Real princes don’t do anything less. So looking back at love, I don’t see many princes. I see a lot of dodged bullets. I don’t see men who would be fit to be my daughters’ father… Which is funny, because I’ve always joked and said I can only be fertilized by the seed of a righteous man. How true that ended up being.

Looking back at love, I see only lessons learnt. Compost growing me into the stellar and confident young lady I am now, at the ripe age of (almost) 38. Who cares if I am a late bloomer.

Looking back at love, I have many many many regrets. MANY. I always wanted to not have regrets, but I guess if you learn the lesson the regret serves as a little brownie badge. “I suffered a philanderer and lived” …. without a scarlet letter. You MUST get a medal for that!

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“Let go of what you think the answer is….”

I fretted and fussed and worried and generally spent a day made up of only anxiety, because of a perception I had. Then these words came to me and I thought…. Natasje, you don’t know that what you are thinking is true. What you are concocting in your very creative mind is a great story but it is not necessarily true. It’s not even based on anything.  Suddenly I relaxed. I exhaled. Like the weight of a day has been lifted.

I ran a beautiful bath with my favourite bubble bath and all my favourite essential oils. I lit candles. I made gluhwein. I relaxed. Then I thought of all the many many many… I can’t say many enough so just repeat it in your head a couple more times. I thought of the many times I worried, made decisions, planned my life, created who I am around what I think the answer is. My exhale turned into a sigh. Trepidation. Mostly what the fuck have I been doing. The answer is, the best I could with what I knew. I now of course realise that what I knew, I didn’t know at all but was a perception on what I thought the answer was.

It’s not very constructive to sit around taking stock of all the times I thought – for no real reason other that, that’s how things work / are etc. – I knew the outcome of a situation or a “play” or the answer to what someone is feeling or thinking or what motivates their actions; And of course if you think you know, you act accordingly and inadvertently manifest that exact outcome. Not because that was going to be the outcome, but because you willed it into being. It gets terribly complicated when you ponder it too much. Let go… again the key phrase. Let go. Let go. Let go.

But sadly, the more life wants me to let go the less I want to let go. Ironically, I am probably stealing my own happiness in each moment of hanging on.

Fear brought me here. You often hear, make decisions from a place of love not fear.  Love let’s go. Love says, “Go on, do what your heart tells you. I will be right here if you need me.” Fear doesn’t even have time to say anything it is so busy clenching and tightening its grip. Fear comes from insecurity. Fear comes from the belief that you are not loved and supported. So I look at myself and say, You don’t feel loved? You don’t feel supported? An honest yes flushes through my body.

This morning everyone I was supposed to meet with was not at the office – thanks for letting me know, guys. Appreciated. I wasn’t upset. I enjoyed the think-time in the car. It was like mini-road trip. So much so that I looked forward to driving home. I kept saying to myself, let go of what you think the answer is. All the way there and all the way back. And every time I felt that tightness in my chest I thought, that’s you fear. Tell me your name. What are you afraid of?  Still I kept saying to myself, let go of what you think the answer is.

Now close your eyes and look with your heart. What does your heart see? Look. Don’t be afraid.

I still can’t see. I am still afraid.

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I was going to start a new series of writing on sculpting the self or uncovering the self… something about remembering who you are. Peeling off layers. I was going to start this more than a year ago already. Like I was going to do many things more than a year ago already.

Instead I lost myself some more. In work. An old escape. It’s very easy to lose yourself there. I happen to love what I do for a living and be very good at it – excellent reasons to get lost in my work. Also my work has the added benefit of being a very fluid thing that can easily spiral into becoming more of itself. So in a blink of an eye, there can be just so much work that every waking minute is devoured by my work. And I’m not miserable being lost there.

I have a friend who goes through phases like this losing himself in online gaming – creating avatars and losing himself completely in alternate lives as an alternate person. When he comes up for air and realises what he’s done and where he’s been, he’s always shrouded in disbelief – how could that have happened? How could I let myself get so lost? I’m not surprised. From where I stand that looks much more believable. A clear escape. Mine comes dressed up as something else and I tell myself I am being responsible. I easily buy it and before I know I am lost. Now that is something worth going How did that happen? Over. It is an insidious thing.

For the past month or so I keep starting to write again. I tell myself, do only 500 words. It’s easier for people to read only 500 words at a go anyway. I’ve become adept at lying to myself. I don’t like it. But it’s a necessity. Survival. Ironically, when I started the blog the promise was 100% truthful, even when it hurts and especially when it hurts. Why else do it. I write fiction for payment, for myself I would write the truth.

But the thing is, the truth is what makes you face yourself. You can’t go to all the trouble of losing yourself in work, and in “busy” – “busy” is a big escape, very convenient like a rabbit you can always pull out of a hat. Truth makes you feel things… and brave as I am… or as I used to think I am, I cannot bring myself to feel. And if I can’t feel, I can’t write. I even did a course, and it marginally helped. It nudged me. Moved me one degree in the direction of feeling.

The time is now. The metaphorical stars are aligned, the universe laid a path out in front of me, I just have to step onto it. Just open your heart and feel… feel anything. Start with anger. Anger is easy. Anger takes no courage at all. But alas. It’s like my heart only has one setting. I can pry open the gates, and all I can do is start crying. Uncontrollably. Tears that don’t stop for love or money. And then I do feel. But what I feel is so far past its sell by-date it’s not right to still be crying. And feeling. Because it hurts so deep. It’s a wound that is incapable of healing. I’ve tried everything and then some…. I’ve tried just cry it out – how long can one person cry anyway. I think my heart saw that as a dare. It won’t stop. I went to Paris – didn’t help one bit. I just cried in Paris. All I can do to stop the river of tears is to lock my heart up, and just switch off all feelings. Stale mate.

P.S. A friend of mine recently fell in love for the first time. The love where you can see the other person’s soul. I said to him: “The Kleenex with the calendula lotion is best. And coconut oil. For your chaffed nose. Buy both in bulk.” He laughed. Bless him.

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heartI share very strange and intimate experiences with my dogs sometimes. Charlie usually spoons with me at night and keeps my tummy warm. This morning, he turned to face me and put his paw on my heart. Not like they sometimes do when they stretch out and steal bed-space. He gently put his paw on my heart. So I put my hand on his paw and we felt my heart beating.

My heart beat differently. It always feels like it pound so hard and booming, outward. Like it’s going to pound into everything outside me – go into the world – beat boldly where no-one has beaten before. But today my heart beat was different. Like it was the exact opposite. It strained to beat. It beat inward, like it had to be forced to beat. Like the only thing driving it was my biology, and it wasn’t having an easy time of it.

I lay like that with Charlie listening to the backward beat of my heart for a long time. It was so incredibly sad that a heart could beat so backward. More sad even that it was mine. I closed my eyes and imagined my heart open so I could see what is inside that makes it not want to beat. It slowly opened and out flowed silvery rivers of things that felt like cold metal – unsaid things. Not just things that I don’t say, but things I can’t say, because I don’t have words to ascribe to them… even if I wanted to say them. Which I obviously don’t. Or what would they be doing in my heart stopping it from beating.

When I was in Paris I felt this feeling for the first time. I knew I should be happy, I knew my heart should beat. I knew if there were anywhere in the world that my heart would beat it would beat here. But it didn’t. It just felt like a cold rock inside my chest. Lying there, heavy, dark. Not even nice dark… just grey. The only time I felt anything for real was when I went to the opera. I think the orchestra reverberating through my body was like a shock – forcing my heart to beat again. But when I walked out. It soon stopped. I miss Paris. I miss the grey. I wish I could melt into it and disappear.

I am almost certain this is why the Universe is sending me back – and why it will keep sending me back until my heart beats on its own again. One cannot simply stay alive so someone will take care of the dogs and so someone will keep Pam employed and put her child in school. One certainly cannot work this hard for it.

It is a strange thing… I have my dream job, my dream house, my dream life. I have so many people who love and care about me, so many exciting things in my future. I am surrounded by so much beauty and love. And my heart is dead. Except not biologically.

Making a Life

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Life is a very precarious thing. It has a life of its own. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. When life gets a little out of balance, this way or that – I had a Primary School teacher who used to say anything with a “TOO” attached is not good. Not even too good – my experience is that very soon it starts settling the imbalance. Even “too good” will balance itself out with a firm “too bad” and the little pendulum will swing this way and that until it again achieves balance. The sweet spot in the middle where there is not too much of anything.

In my day job I don’t get to let my thoughts meander, so I am so relieved to let my mind meander through its musings to finally get to whatever it wants to get to. In this case: Balance –

Back to the precariousness of life, and its will of its own. This is probably a good time to admit that I know the rule of “TOO” but I don’t seem to learn the lesson. I guess part of me is an artist, I live for the extremes, I gravitate to the “too”s. At this point in my life I find myself working too hard.

When I started this contract, my big boss told me about ten times, don’t do too much, work too hard and burn yourself out. Maybe she told me more than ten times… I was obviously not listening. The thing is, I love what I do. It’s the most fun thing I can think of doing – making up stories. When I was 10, I used to play Barbie relentlessly – it was a whole soap. There were only two Ken’s and 4 Barbies and the little girl, whatever her name was. Sometimes they ran a ranch and had to brush the horse  – my maltese poodle had to play the part of the horse, since I had a Barbie poodle (I think it was a poodle) and it was already the dog. I could play from the moment I opened my eyes until 10 o’clock at night, when my mother had to come and say, “put them away and go to sleep.” I loved playing with characters and making them do things. So as an adult writing TV… I can’t stop.

I came back from Paris on New Year’s Eve and missed my shows so much I wrote all night! It makes me happy. I am both addicted and a little married to my job… It’s way out of balance. TOO MUCH. And Universe says “No”.

There’s a meme going around: “Don’t be so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” I need to start making a life.

Indulge in distractions.

For some reason, maybe because my cells can feel winter is coming, I’ve been nesting. Blankets. Linen. Towels. Fixing… It’s a little odd. But I think even my cells are saying, “Honey, make a life.” I have one more month of crazy work hours and then in May, I start a normal job again. And in June, I run a Masterclass and then I go to France. Holiday. Will I even remember how? Will I know how to make a life… well, I’m sure if I just hang back and let my body take over, I’ll be fine.

I feel my breath become a little shorter and my chest close up a little, but… It’ll be okay. I’m sure I will be happy with a “LIFE”.

Distractions

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I am having a distraction. I will not put all my eggs out, because I know the difference between when your heart leaps and you’re caught in a beautiful distraction. And there are children. And children are sensitive beasts but they are actually also resilient beasts… The thing about children is the ease with which your heart loves them so wholly and children are resilient, but adult hearts hurt when children are ripped out. But that said, I am in a beautiful distraction and it makes me very happy.

Distractions happen very suddenly. Like all heart-things do. One moment you are desperately trying to distract yourself. And the more you try the more your heart just aches. The more you pine. The more you hurt. The more you hurt. And then one morning innocently you get a “waking up selfie” and groggily you look up and smile for no reason and you know this is good. This is good and it is easy and it nourishes and heals.

And you have no need to know where it will be tomorrow or if it will be tomorrow. Or what the smile is about… or what the feelings are. Because it’s a distraction. And it’s a happy distraction at that. And if it makes you happy…

And winter is coming. Distractions are good things and I am happily having a distraction. There is no facebook status for it, but there is also not an “unlike” button. So the flaw is clearly in the system.

Let go of what no longer serves you

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For the longest time, I’ve been having the sense that it is time to let go of that which no longer serves me. That this is the next leg of my journey toward love and firstly self-love: Letting go, and making space.

So I let go… Of friends. Or rather “friends”. People that aren’t really friends at all but voyeurs on your road, or misery people. You don’t need them, their presence makes you no less lonely and they only drain good from your road.

I let go of a lot of stuff. Man I had a lot of crap taking up space.

I let go of my notions of staying here, I looked into immigration, selling my house… letting go of everything I know…

My most dear dog died and I thought, maybe I also have to let go of the thing I love most.

I let go of a lot of things and people and notions and even after all that, one day I looked around, and felt: “Let go of that which no longer serves you.”

Oh the frustration. What on earth should I, could I possibly still let go of… I’ve given up, moved on and closed doors. What on earth else?

Then I stumbled on the phrase: “… your idea of what love is.” I stopped in myself and thought for a second. Apart from this feeling… what is love? What do I understand about love? I was listening to an audio by Rikka Zimmerman and she asked, “How have you been shown love? Did someone say to you, ‘I’ll give my life to you – I love you.’ …” sacrifice? Do I understand love as sacrifice? “I’ve given up everything for you.” And that is love. In that moment the little puzzle pieces fell right into place and all the messages I have ever received about love bubbled up to the surface…

…suddenly there was a whole lot more to let go of, because none of this actually ever served me.

So here I am cleaning out a closet in my mind. Full of even more crap. Crap I forgot I had. Crap I never even realised I kept… and believed in. Sadly. As I pack out each of these ideas, I’m a little embarrassed that it’s there in the first place. I feel ashamed. It’s weird, I don’t understand why I feel such shame. But I do. And I start understanding why love is always such an in-and-out emotion. Feeling. Visitor. Why I meet love always – believe me when I say always – ALWAYS with such passion and equal measure of rejection. It makes sense.

I attract love in abundance, because I have a deep hunger to be adored and showered with love and affection. The downside of my understanding of love however is that: Love means sacrifice – You die for love – you burn to cinders in love – you give up everything that is you for love… Really? I believe that? I am ashamed to say, I do. I don’t want to, but in that place where I can’t lie to myself I believe it. It’s a strange thing because I come alive with even the thought of burning with love. And in my heart where everything is true, I know it’s an eternal flame – the kind that means warmth and all that goes with that. But in my mind that is scared… and scarred, I think: smoke and ashes.

Another thing I believe is that love leaves. It’s what I’ve known. And because I know it in my heart and mind, I live it and time and again it happens. Love leaves. If I had R5 for every time my mother said to me: “I never want to see you again.” If I had R5 for every time my mother – primary caregiver – has thrown me out, away, rejected me, wished I was never born… I could forget about my financial woes to start with. So then I went through this strange cupboard full of beliefs about love, and I looked for anything that even resembled a belief that love would stick around. I couldn’t find even a trace. Not even with my CSI kit.

The time has come to clear out this closet and let go. Love knocked on the door, came in and it’s having coffee… Let go of all these stupid beliefs, Natasje. There’s no space for them here.