Stolen words

My diary.
Of all the things you took
My money, my trust, my confidence
This is what stung most:
That you felt you had a right,
That you were entitled
To parts never exposed to anyone
(the darkness unforeseen, unexpected, unresolved)
And that was not enough;
Then you stole my poetry
And used it to serenade the next
Soul mate, the next chapter,
The next forever-after-lie;
And the words dried up,
I had no words
No rhyme.
And then one day I watched
The sun set itself to sleep
And the waves caressing the sand
In a waltz with the wind.
And I knew:
That there were more words,
That there was more poetry,
more rhyme,
That would never
be
yours.

Copyright Hiraeth 2016

If you knew

If you knew how hard it is
Trying to keep a marriage intact
In this day and age
And raise a family,
Despite the overwhelming
Pace of life,
Despite the exhaustive have-to-do,
Have-to-be demands,
You would grant him a chance
To find what you searched for
But still have not found,
You would offer your support,
Ask what role you can play
To add to our family,
Instead of the one you defined
For yourself
Long before there was us.
You would put your selfish ways
Aside and have the wisdom to see:
We are trying our best,
Just
let
us
be.

Copyright Hiraeth 2016

Words

A wedding speech. You toasted the bride and groom. Everyone was left speechless, you spoke with such clarity, intertwining the personalties of the two, humorous anecdotes and a touch of wisdom at the end. While everyone listened intently, with every word something in me gasped for air. One of the guests even came up to me and said that she did not realise that you are a very deep person.
I parallel it with your wedding speech. A long list of thank you’s and a quick I love you at the end. Full stop. Nothing more.
So that night I realised, you always had the words,
You just didn’t have them
For me.

Copyright Hiraeth 2016

The Cross

When I visited Austria a few years ago I bought a cross at one of the most beautiful gothic churches I visited (there were many – I was searching). It resonated with my soul, the garish art captured the storms raging inside my heart. I identified with lost souls from generations ago. I spent a few hours there contemplating and praying about my life. It was quite a mess at that stage, I was lost in a story I wanted to rewrite. There was too much drama and pain. I left that church with a sense of complete peace that God had a plan for my life, that if I just kept walking it would unfold as it was meant to be. That cross became more than a souvenir to me. I wore it the day I stood in the court for the end of my marriage, the day I had to testify for a restraining order against a bad decision and the day I said goodbye to the closest I had to a sister in this life. I wore it whenever life tilted towards the overwhelming and on any of the numerous anniversaries of loss. Earlier this year I wore it on the tenth anniversary of my wedding day and when I wanted to take it off at night, I realised I was wearing only the chain. The cross was gone. For a few days I was very sad, I even contemplated asking a friend in Austria to post another one. But I realised that there was a lesson in there, particularly for someone who is so sentimental and collects memories in things. (I have love letters from when I was eight, my school books from Grade 1.) The memories are not there, nor the love, nor the strength to continue. It was as if God was saying, lay it down, let it go.

It is done.
And for the first time
It was.

copyright Hiraeth 2016

The race

There is an epidemic in our school system
And it is murdering what I believe
Is every child’s godly right:
A childhood, filled with play, creativity, security, naivety and innocence.
It starts early:
Your fine motor skills, gross motor skills, visual perceptive skills, vestibular skills (your inner GPS they explained at the informative parents’ evening) and emotional skills are all analyzed, scored against what is perceived as normal, fitting to the cookie cutter scheme you signed up for.
And if you don’t measure up?
Therapy for you and what’s more, the school can offer it all on its premises, an added luxury. The teacher in charge only has 20 small bodies in her class, but any deviation from the normed behaviour, needs to be addressed all in the name of school readiness. To be ready for school. The next level of the competition, the feared first year where it is expected that your child be resilient at seven and first prize if independent too.
It is ludicrous.
Every second child I know is receiving therapy of some kind and the parents are frazzled, panicked with the fear that there is something wrong with their child.
And granted, you may reason that life is competitive and the sooner they get in the race, the better.
But at four? Five? Six? Seven?
They have the rest of their lives to settle into the race, life takes care of that.
It is ludicrous.

I became aware of the race when I was 10 and it was intrinsic. I wanted to excel. I wanted to be first, do my best. Up until then, I was just having fun.

My mother’s heart pleads for us to fight for our children’s right to be children, to enjoy the few years where life should not be a race, but an adventure.

In closing my rant, while driving my six year old daughter to school and lamenting about how we each have a gift (I could never be a trail runner like Beth’s mom, I write instead and I can still not do cartwheels or handstands – who cares!?) and as long as we do our best, it should not matter who is first. She replied, matter-of-factly while twirling her hair,
if you were a kid, it would matter.
And now it does.

Copyright Hiraeth 2016

Billabong Blue

For me longing
Is a blue Billabong jersey
And Colbie Callait’s Realize on the radio.
I was 27 and believed I had found my
Soul, sole mate.
In that moment
Before I paid for a top I carefully selected,
A hoodie, a present for him
(Not to bold, not too much print)
I realised
That I could not change him, fix him, mould him into what would make me whole.
I realised
He was using drugs
I realised
He would break me.
I left him and wore that hoodie the
Entire weekend.
It was covered in snot and tears.
And I survived,
With “only a surfer knows the feeling”
And a giant wave
Engraved across my heart.
I survived
Even though walking away was
Fucking hard,
Lonely.
I survived it in a Blue Billabong top.
Longing doesn’t change as you get older,
I still associate it with the same things.
But it does get easier.
You realise you will survive,
That there is always beauty and renewal, a kindness to the universe,
A treasure trove of memories engraved
Upon your soul.
And on the bad days
You reach for that Billabong hoodie
And cover it in snot,
Tears,
You pull it over your unkept hair
And hide from the cruelty
That takes away what you love,
Whom you love.
And then you take the top off,
Toss it in the wash
And you survive.

Copyright Hiraeth 2016

When love and hate collide

“But I don’t understand how someone who said they love you can resort to this,” I said. At first he looked genuinely surprised by my naivety, twirled his pencil and said,
“If there is one thing I have learnt, it is that for some people the line between love and hate is a very thin one.” And to this day I remember this when I try to understand how people who once claimed to love each other, now stand at war, prepared to do anything, everything to destroy, obliterate the other, even when the other is the mother or father of their children, despite that. You cannot claim to put your children first in a situation like this, no, you are serving your ego, your need for revenge (as if it will finally bring you peace). You may think you are winning.
You stop paying the children’s medical aid, despite the agreement you would and their mother finds out for the first time when a child is admitted to ER. She knows that taking you to court will cost more than her just taking over the medical aid. Stand proud man, you won that round. The crowds applaud.
You trash your ex husband in front of everyone, even the children. You concoct lies about who he is, what he is done. All is fair in love and war you tell yourself. He is a loser, look what he did to us (I am the victim – I tried everything to save this). Your children are torn in two.
Stand proud woman, you are a heroine. The crowds applaud.
But one day those children grow up and they will ask you the very same thing I asked that court clerk. And when you see the trauma in their eyes, you will realise:
you ultimately lost the war.

Copyright Hiraeth 2016

Keep swimming

His name is Nemo. He is a telescopic goldfish with black and gold spots. His demeanour captured my attention right away. Acrobatic in his moves, but by far not the most elegant fish, his round belly adds to his strange shape. But anything he lacks in his athletic ability, he makes up for with his determination.

I realised three days in that he has swim bladder disorder and as a result struggles to swim properly at times, sometimes being disorientated. I researched all the treatments, and between salt baths, feeding him peas and fasting (yes, don’t say it – I think I have given up on saving people, fish on the other hand…) he is managing to be settled among four other fish.

Someone told me that fish bring serenity in your life and I wholeheartedly agree.
Except there is more:
Little Nemo reminds me every day that life is not easy, that there are unavoidable battles, you may lose direction and float belly-up for a few hours, but you never, ever float to the top for permanent stay.
Keep swimming.
Like Nemo.

Copyright Hiraeth 2016

Collateral damage

I always smirk when people post quotes about never being unfaithful, about always putting their children first. With the advent of social media, just about everyone is armed with quotations about who they are and who they are not. These are used in public revenge posts, or a less-than-subtle message for all to see. A quote about you not ever being able to live with yourself after breaking your partner’s trust (an advert that your partner betrayed you), a post for the other woman (“single ladies – don’t be confused, he is taken – he is married”), one that emphasises you always put your kids first, that your marriage is built in trust. The truth is, in certain times of your life, you really have no idea what you will choose, despite a rigid moral system, you may falter. Sometimes we lose sight of who we are, our values, our truth. And in those times you will, most likely, err in your choices. A woman or man drenched in depression and despair can be a destructive hurricane. Very few of us take someone else’s word as our own. We are experimental beings. We are human, we make mistakes.

Suddenly you find yourself in a friendship with a member of the opposite sex and realise you are in love. It almost happened in slow motion and you convinced yourself it is nothing more than a connection. And you convince yourself you are entitled because your husband is disinterested, you may as well be the gray worn-out welcome mat at the front door. You post quotes about following your heart and letting go of what no longer works, you drink up Paulo Coelho’s quotes about following your destiny.

Suddenly your break up turns into a vindictive mess, where you are the victim (despite tracking their every move, hiring a private investigator and attempting to steal their financial records) and your children are kept away from the other parent under the guise of protection. And you convince yourself you are entitled because you were wronged. You post quotes about you being a lion in this war.
This self-imposed war.
(And this is war.)
So each of us finds out who we are, by venturing into what we are not.
And the hope is that we can always return to who we are,
without
too
much
collateral
damage.

Copyright Hiraeth 2016