10) A man that is honest not only to me and the public, but also to himself
Where do I even begin? I guess the beginning is always a good start (pun intended).
I met my “potential” ex-husband in 2006, it wasn’t love at first sight, it was rather “connection or curiosity at first sight”. When I met him, there was still a lot of controversy around xenophobia and the attacks, there were stereotypes around Xhosa women dating “foreign” man. It was never roses and peaches, it was a constant battle with not only being together but also having to introduce him to my family knowing very well the stigma that was attached to our relationship. I didn’t care, I was in-love with him and against all odds, he had my heart.
In 2008, we had our first child and in 2013 we moved in together. It started out as a “weekend thing”, you know how it is ladies? You’re there every weekend and every other day, 80% of your clothes are at his place. Eventually, you find out that you have unknowingly moved in. That’s what happened, and in 2013, I was officially cohabiting. Life was good, we would go out clubbing, eating out every other night, it was all fun. Our child was staying with my mom. A few months later of cohabiting we both decided we wanted our child to come stay with us and even though it was against my tradition and without the blessing of my parents, I wasn’t really bothered. My head was in the clouds and all I could see was the three of us being one big happy family.
Cohabiting changed a lot of things for us. I was “expected” to do things – cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, taking care of things, doing all of this while also being a student at the same time. He would go out drinking with his friends and come back whenever he felt like it, sometimes in the morning. It wasn’t fun anymore, the going out stopped, the eating out stopped and I found myself stuck in this situation I had never imagined for myself. When baby number two arrived in 2015, I was an emotional mess. We were still cohabiting, my parents were still not happy with what I was doing and I still felt stuck in this relationship. After Jonathan was born, I knew the next natural step would be for us to get married. In my head I thought I had to show him that I was ready, even though I had said it to him countless times. I had to change my entire lifestyle to show that I was “wife material” – go to work, come back and look after the kids, make sure the house is clean, laundry is done, clothes are ironed, there’s food on the table etc. I did all of this and still, nothing changed.
In 2016, I took my kids to my parents and I moved out. He searched for me and apologized, he admitted all the wrongs he had done and ensured me that he would change and try to do better, I gave in and gave him another chance. I moved back in with him and the first few months were good, after some time things went back to normal, I moved out again. He apologized and this time he proposed, I said “YES’! He went to my parents to pay lobola and we came back, traditionally as “husband and wife”. Life was fine and in 2017 I became pregnant with our third child, it wasn’t planned. The routine started again, same behaviour, same pattern and I stayed. I kept asking myself why I had gone back so many times before? I always hoped and prayed to God to show me the signs and when He did, I prayed that He would change him. I always prayed for my husband, our union, our kids and it still fell apart. How does that happen? When prayer doesn’t seem to be working, what happens?
It’s hard to describe myself without mentioning that I am a mother, I am a mom of three kids. Out of everything that has happened in my life, I am certain of being a mother. My kids are the very essence of me and it has been that way since I was 18 when I had my first child. Everything has always been secondary, that’s the way I’ve always known it to be. When I reflect on the recent activities that have shaped my life I like to imagine a person who was born into a vegan family, deprived of meat their whole life and one day at University or something, they taste an omelette or a nice lamb shank, their taste buds explode. It’s either they will be repulsed by it or they will spend their entire life making up for lost time. That’s me, in a relationship for over a decade, 3 kids, married. Here I am now, staying with my sister alone, my parents have the kids and I don’t have a husband to worry about. What do I do? I make up for lost time, clubbing every other day, making bad decisions. I’m like a child left unattended at a candy store.
Here I am, like a child that was deprived her whole life. Living this “single woman” life. My children are with my parents and I’m standing at this crossroads making these not very good decisions. I’m not sure if I’m still trying to find myself, I don’t have the answer. I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t have the formula. I am just a woman trying to glue pieces of her life back together. At 29 years old, I am still “trying to find myself”. I am trying to identify who I am without first describing myself as a “mother”. What do I like? What’s my type? What do I want? WHO do I want? I certainly, don’t want to be resentful, I don’t want my kids growing up in a broken home, I don’t want to lose everything I’ve worked so hard to build. What I’ve come to realise though is that whatever decision I make does not only affect me, there are three other innocent souls that I must account for. They call me mom, they refer to me as their hero, they hug me tight, they give me those unexpected warm and sometimes wet kisses, they ask me what they’re gonna eat for dinner and they expect me to read them bedtime stories. If at 29 I feel like I’ve ruined my life, then God has granted me the greatest opportunity of shaping the futures of three incredible souls. It stopped being about me 10 years ago, now it’s about three other souls and that means compromising. Then again, that’s what mothers do, they make sacrifices.
This question! I hear it everyday, people saying it to other people without even giving them a second look, repeatedly, tirelessly! Hello, how are you? It has become a mundane sentence that has lost it’s depth. I’ve seen and heard people say these words and not even wait for the other person to respond.
“Hello. How are you?”
What’s the point anymore?
Let me explain myself. There was a time in my life when everything fell apart, it was so bad that I didn’t even know how I would be able to pick up myself and face tomorrow. I was constantly in tears. I was in depression mode for months. My whole world was in pieces.
You know how they say, “when it rains, it pours?“. Well, it was pouring!
Three months pregnant, with a three year old daughter, I was put out on the streets because he never paid rent or even made an effort. Suicidal thoughts crept in, I tried to take my own life with folic-acid and iron vitamin pills, which only left me with a nausea’s feeling for two days. I lost my job that was paying peanuts and my husband tried to kill me with a broom stick. I just got away.
I ended up in a save house for abused woman and children. (Yes, do not be so shocked, I am also a survivor.) Two months later this save house closed down, again I had to find a place to stay. A week later, an angel drove all the way from Gordon’s Bay to pick up myself and my daughter so we could move to Cape Town. Bless her soul!!! During this time period in my life so many people asked me how I was and my answer was “I am okay” LIES!!
How many times have you been asked this question and responded with a lie? How many times have you asked this question because you genuinely cared about the person and how they were doing? Not just as a courtesy but out of the sincerity of your heart? If you listen carefully, if you look closely enough you can hear the person screaming
“I need help” “please listen to me”.
Have you ever been in this situation? Do you know how it feels when you’re screaming for help and no one is listening?
When I got to Cape Town, I was 5 months pregnant. I was scared. The Big City life!!! I stayed with my friend for a few days until she told me she got a place for us to stay, a save house for abused woman and children. Once again I was confused. The next day she and her mother dropped me off at the house, they made sure I was okay before they left. One of the ladies that stayed in the house, showed me around. I was in shock at the number of mom’s with children staying at the house. There was absolutely no shortage of anything. There was enough food, enough toiletries, more than enough bedding. The thought of this being my home for a few months was just too overwhelming for me. I burst into tears of joy. I will always be grateful for the love and care I received at the save house.
It was a time in my life where I had to fight my battles alone, I had to get myself together. I used this time to heal myself, to get rid of the emotional baggage, to make time for myself. What about all those people who asked me “how are you?“
Well. They never pitched up to help me.
It was in this heartbroken, scared, confused time of my life that I made the decision, never will I ignore someone’s answer on this question. I will always take the time to listen, I will always try to help were I can, because when I needed that shoulder, or the hug, or those ears, very few people were there for me. No one took me serious enough to recognize that I needed help except for that one angel, which will always be the angel that saved me.
So, hello how are you?
Do not ever ask this question just because it is a habit, treat this question with more respect! It is not courtesy if you ask someone how they are and not actually listen to them. If you’re not interested in hearing how someone is, then don’t ask them because they might just open up and tell you all their demons and what are you gonna do, ignore them? We are all fighting battles and kindness is important, however, dis-genuine care is not kindness at all. So, the next time you ask someone how they are be prepared to actually listen.
There’s this book I coincidentally started reading about two weeks prior to my break-up called “Eat.Pray.Love”. Basically, it’s about a woman who travels around the world after being divorced in search of enlightenment. Needless to say this book came at such a pivotal moment in my life, it’s like God was sending me a sign from heaven “Girl, you’re about to get your heart broken, so you better start taking pointers and preparing yourself“. Well, in a more God-Like tone, but you get the gist.
Two days after my break-up, I decided to get back into the dating pool (Yes, I said TWO DAYS). I unblocked all the guys I had blocked, I started accepting date offers, I made it clear that I was single again. Three days later, I had a date arranged with this very sweet guy (If you’re reading this, I really do apologize). A friend of mine set me up with this guy after he saw a picture of me and wanted to meet me, I didn’t really know him well so I accepted, there hadn’t been much encounter between us prior to our date and I failed to mention that I was fresh off a break-up. Good looking guy, witty, smart, well-traveled and all round great guy. Ten minutes into the conversation I notice he has an accent (Okay Sibahle, he probably just has an accent that reminds you of your ex, nothing more to it), as he speaks I keep getting reminded of my ex. I don’t give out anything, conversation goes on for hours, wine is pouring in, we start making out – we’re vibing, it’s cool. We decide to move to a second place – We’re both on leave and we’re both catching flights to Joburg the following day so you know, we can go on for as long as we want. When we get to the second restaurant, I’m drunk and his accent is now just getting to me, after making out with him a few more times I eventually cannot hold it in-
“OMG YOUR ACCENT REMINDS ME OF MY EX-BOYFRIEND. WE JUST BROKE UP 5 DAYS AGO, I STILL LOVE HIM AND I MISS HIM SO MUCH. I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE, I’M SO SORRY. I’M GONNA GO TO MY EX-BOYFRIEND’S HOUSE NOW”
Well, considering I broke down in an Uber car after the driver asked me if he should take the N1 or the Main Road, this wasn’t the worst thing.
“I don’t know, I’m so tired of people asking me things. I don’t know everything. I’m not that strong, I’m not in control. I’m just tired, I’m tired of talking and I’m tired of being asked things” and then I started crying. Poor Uber Driver had to stop the car and apologize for asking me my route preference.
I won’t mention how I requested an Uber ride in tears and basically cried for the duration of the trip. I wonder what kind of feedback these Uber drivers were leaving on my Uber profile.
“Do not accept her request because she will cry when you say Good Morning, or ask her how she is, or ask her which route she prefers, actually, even if you just breathe, she will still cry”
I had a conversation with one of my friends the other day and she asked me how I handled my break-up so “gracefully”. I didn’t, there was nothing “graceful” about me drunk-dialing my ex every other day or me going to his house when I got drunk. It was messy, it was ugly, it was tragic!
There is this woman I know who remained single for 18 YEARS after she got her heart broken. She just recently entered a relationship and everyone thought she would never date again. Some scars run deeper than we could ever imagine and there is no recipe or formula to be followed in mending a broken heart. I remember when I went through what I refer to as one of the hardest break-ups in my entire life and it was also one of my shortest relationships. I went to google to check how long it takes to get over someone, of cause google never disappoints, the answer I got was that it takes half the duration of the relationship, in my head I was like this is amazing, the relationship was only six months so after 3 months I should be able to get back into the dating pool as per google. Seven months later, I was still attending break-up meditation sessions and crying myself to sleep.
“Delete the number.”
“Block the person on social media”
“Delete all pictures”
What happens when you follow all these steps and you still find yourself thinking about the person everyday? Is there something wrong with you then?
One of my favorite quotes from Martin Luther King Jr says,
“If you can’t fly then run. If you can’t run then walk. If you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you HAVE to keep moving forward”
The secret is in putting one foot in-front of the other, moving forward even if all you do is wake up everyday and face the world. Healing takes time and letting go takes courage. Heart-break has taught me that besides the relationship I have with God, the relationship I have with myself is fundamental in moving on. I had to learn to forgive myself, to speak kind words to myself, to cherish my heart, to take care of my spirit and to love every part of myself. My ex colleagues used to tease me and say “When God was giving out confidence Sibs was first in line and she got an extra dose.” and we’d all laugh about it. I am a very confident person only because I know how it feels to hate myself, I know how it feels to think I am not good enough because of rejection. That’s another thing with getting your heart broken, it changes you as a person, it makes your stronger. I am a firm believer that you don’t meet anyone by chance or by accident in life. Everyone we come across serves a purpose, whether that is to love us, leave us, break us or mould us – there is always a lesson to be learnt, and I still maintain that there is no relationship or heart-break that could ever make me lose faith in love. Love is beautiful, I have it now with God, I have it with myself, I have it with my loved ones and I have it in my current relationship. I never lost it to begin with, it’s always been within and around me, I just lost the person who I felt was a representation of it to me.
People often say “Fake it till you make it”, NO! I much prefer “FAITH IT TILL YOU MAKE IT”, and it doesn’t matter how bad it looks now, you WILL make it and all the love you’ve given WILL find it’s way back to you. I don’t envy the people who go from relationship to relationship and don’t feel a thing, when I was crying myself to sleep I thought I did. Letting yourself feel is a beautiful thing, allowing your heart to love again after having it shattered into pieces is a courageous act. Feel, cry, curse, scream, laugh! If you can feel the pain and anger so deep, imagine how deeply you will feel that love and happiness when it finds its way back to you.
“Have you seen how good I look lately? No, I mean have you seen my glow? Have you seen my body? This is not a junk-food eating body GIRL!!”
I SAID THAT!!! Me, Sibahle Teyise, 25 years old! 5 February 2018, 13:20 at 22 Bree Street, I was having a conversation with my now ex colleagues and I legit said those words with a straight face, I didn’t even include a “LOL” after that. Like, I said the sentence and the conversation continued, I was not apologetic about it.
It’s a lie though! I eat Junk food, a lot, I don’t even eat it in moderation. I can have 2 big packets of Lays for Breakfast, a burger and fries for lunch, a chocolate for a snack and a 3 course meal for dinner, I can do this for a whole week without fail. I know how to eat. I can eat. I know how to gain weight, I gain weight, quickly, frequently! So the not eating junk food part was a lie, but I do look good, that part wasn’t a lie. Seriously, I look good – and for the first time in my life I feel absolutely no guilt in saying that. More than anything though – I feel amazing, I feel happiness, contentment and gratitude.
Growing up I was never considered beautiful, I compensated for what I lacked in looks by being a top achiever. I worked my ass off and ensured I was always at the top of my class, pretty much got sponsored through high school. Once I accepted that I would never measure up to my sister’s level of beauty (We were compared when it came to looks and she always reigned, that girl is gorgeous, like effortlessly beautiful. She has scored the genetics lottery) I knew that I would be the nerd, I was happy, I was confident, I was the head girl and I knew that no-one dared to take me on academically, I somehow became “attractive” according to my peers – the most popular guy wanted to date me, I wonder what changed. Had he seen my sister? Was he sure he wanted me date ME? Only now do I realize it. My looks didn’t dramatically change but I had come into my own, I had accepted my flaws, I was confident and unapologetic about who I was, I was happy – happiness is attractive. Have you ever looked at someone when they talk about what they’re passionate about? That spark in their eyes? That passion? It’s attractive. Happiness is attractive! Excitement is attractive! Passion is attractive! Confidence is attractive! Happiness and beauty are in alignment, and with that comes confidence.
I’ve always thought that complimenting oneself is vain. Growing up I was taught modesty, however, there is nothing modest in amounting your worth to the validation you receive from others.
The greatest things I’ve done this year? I stopped weighing myself. I realized that my happiness cannot be measured by the number that appears on a scale. Of cause I work out and still look after myself but the most important thing for me right now is protecting my soul, whatever is good for myself that is what I’m doing.
I remember in early 2016 I tried to date this guy, long story short – it didn’t work out. Now, I have this rule of mine when I am dating – You can’t be too attractive, like we can’t be on the same “attractive” level.
This guy was an exception to this rule, he was crazy attractive. Like he would jog without a t-shirt on, walk-in and slow music starts playing, i’d wake up in the middle of the night and stare him, I just wanted to kiss him every second, the really overwhelming hot. Get the picture? Seriously crazy attractive guy with an amazing body, he lifts okay? Anyway, the crazy thing about the relationship is just how he seemed to be infatuated with me, like “show me off” to his friends infatuated, it was kinda cool, coz I was like –
“Really YOU? You wanna be seen with ME? You want every person to know that you’re with ME? Like, are you SURE? But OKAY!”
That’s the problem, we are so out of tune with ourselves that it becomes hard to even let people love us because we feel like they’re out of our league. I tell you, try it! Just as easily as you forgive and understand when it comes to other people, try it with yourself, forgive yourself, understand yourself, compliment yourself, love yourself and appreciate yourself. It will not only change your perception of yourself but it will also change your perception of those around you. Know your worth and demand it, learn to walk away from things that no longer grow you.
Be humble please, by all means. It’s biblical! But don’t downplay yourself, you’re not doing anyone any favors.
You are beautiful inside and out. Wonderful top to bottom. Irreplaceable left and right.
READ THAT AGAIN!!
Yes, I said IRREPLACEABLE! There is NOBODY that is you and that is priceless. Walk away from anyone who makes you feel ordinary because there is nothing ordinary about you.
So, like I said, have you seen how gorgeous I am? Have you looked at me lately? GIRL!!
“But I love him”
“He’s been through a lot in his life. He lost his father when he was young and he comes from a broken home.”
“I can’t leave him also. I can’t do that to him.”
“He’s not actually that bad once you get to know him”
“He was my first, I don’t see myself being with anyone else… I love him”
I heard the words echo at the back of my head, it all seemed too familiar, too close to home, too disturbing. Shattered glass, broken promises, lights blazing, sometimes it felt like lightning… it happened one too many times yet it caught me by surprise every time.
“I’m ruined. You’re ruined. We’re both ruined. We’re ruining each other. This is tragic”
Bruises….screams….sobs… sympathy… and the cycle starts again.
I remember being young at home sitting on a chair wearing my best Sunday clothes, my sister holding my shoulder… I kept hearing screams… broken glass.. shattered on the floor.
“Mom’s in hospital again, daddy lost his temper….again”
I was six years old, I had on my best church attire, I didn’t know what was happening but I knew when Daddy lost his temper mommy ended up in hospital.
Now here I am standing at a crossroads, he’s hit me one to many times. I could always cover it up when it happened with no one around.
“I fell down the stairs.. you know how clumsy I am.”
I couldn’t this time, my sister and cousin were standing 5 steps away from us. When the second strike touched my face all I could see was stars… maybe he’ll stop at the second strike this time. It’s okay, he just lost his temper… again. He started crying, I couldn’t… I was too numb.
“I’m ruined. You’re ruined. We’re both ruined. We’re ruining each other. This is tragic”
It was a lot of things, it was insecurity, it was personal issues, I could never admit that it was abuse. He was physically abusing me, assaulting me and then emotionally blackmailing me to stay with him. I have never admitted it to anyone until I heard my friend tell me her story last week. It felt like my whole world was obliterated, like a gimmick, a revelation. I was in a relationship with my first boyfriend for four years and whenever I speak of the problems we had I cite “cheating” as the reason we broke up, him hitting me never seemed to phase me. Why? Let’s put modesty aside, I know I’m a very intelligent woman, I know what abuse is, I know what domestic abuse is yet it happened to me for four years and I never mentioned a word of it to a soul.
“Mom’s in hospital again, daddy lost his temper….again”
I was in an abusive relationship for four years and I stayed because it seemed normal to me. It felt okay, it was an environment I was a part of for sometime in my life, and I never knew how much damage that created in me until recently. I got a “warrior” tattoo last week and I slept on my side as the tattoo artist was busy with the design, I closed my eyes and thought of all the times I’ve justified someone I love doing an injustice to me with….
“But I love him…”
Does he love me though? Did he ever love me? Love doesn’t hurt. That’s what we often do in relationships, we ruin each other. We take and we take but we leave emptier than when we entered the relationship.
I felt a tingle on the back of my throat, I felt a tear fall from my eyes. As I closed my eyes I wanted it to hurt, I really wanted the tattoo to hurt, I wanted it to hurt more than all the hurt I’ve succumbed to. As I lay on that side, I felt every tingle of ink entering my skin
I felt it and I wept for all the parts of me I’ve lost in every relationship I have ever been in. For every time I let him hurt me.. continuously….because I loved him… for every loss.
I’ve survived it all and everyday of my life I am still picking up the pieces. I still have BIG trust issues and insecurities and I often find myself overeating or under eating and everyday I need to remind myself that it’s okay. I don’t have it all figured out, I don’t have all the answers, I am not always in control and most times than I want to admit I need reassurance and I want someone else to be strong for me. It took me 25 years to learn that being vulnerable is okay, that it’s okay to show weakness, it’s okay to not try to always be so perfect.. because I’m not perfect and I will never be perfect.. I don’t want to be perfect, it’s too great a burden to carry.
One of my friends asked me the other day what is the one thing I look for in a relationship, and I said “security, commitment, communication, respect, understanding.. I want to feel safe, protected and loved“. That’s all I want.
So if you’re reading this and you feel sad, abandoned, insecure, broken, hopeless and ruined, I just want you to know that you’re not alone. I survived every bad thing that has ever happened to me and so can you. It’s not easy, I am writing this blog with tears streaming down my face because I still find it hard to believe how far I’ve come and all the things I have survived, but everyday I rise and I become stronger and so are you. Before you justify domestic abuse by saying “But I love him…” ask yourself first
“Does he love you? Do you love yourself? Is this what you’ve always had in mind when you pictured love?”
Abuse, in any form or shape is not an indication of love. You deserve better and you can do better. You are a survivor. A warrior. A conqueror.