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Find strength my friend… I know your heart is broken, and you’ve no will to mend it. But you have strength. You have it inside. You needed it to love at all, and to have loved so deeply that your heart is broken takes some of the greatest strength on Earth. We humans are not prone to easily giving away that which we have, least of all our hearts, hopes and dreams. To allow someone access to all that you are, and to give them the chance to be loved by you, took strength. So to mend, find strength, for you will need it over the next few weeks. The pain doesn’t last forever, although it seems it will. The tears, they dry. The lack of sleep will pass, too. And one day, and I promise this, one day it won’t hurt anymore. Speaking simplistically, pain is our body’s way of letting go, and whilst in the depth of it, it is unbearable – but you will survive. The best advice I was ever given, when in the depths of a broken heart, was this: focus on the small things. Allow yourself time, and focus on the small things; the simple things. At first, just getting out of bed is feat seemingly unconquerable. But each time you do so, do so with pride and a head held high. The broken heart within you dissolved your very bones and took from you every bit of strength and will you had. But you got up, today. And it wasn’t that bad. Then take two steps without falling back into the bed from which you just freed yourself, and congratulate yourself. A literal step when hurting, is as good as a metaphorical one, because in the end, we always wind up moving forward, though we may not know what it is we move towards. Then push for three steps, and then four, until one day you’re walking for miles without a single thought to it; each step a tiny testimony to the bravery with which you’ve faced the odds. The same happens with breathing. From the moment your heart is broken, focus on breathing. In and out. In and out. It’s seemingly the most simple thing we can accomplish as human beings, yet when your heart is broken, even this most simple of physiological functions can become impaired. So breathe. Allow yourself to focus on your breaths, even though they’re choked at times with tear and anger and pain from deep within. I know this pain, the one that holds you. It starts at your toes and curls its way around every organ in your body, sitting in your stomach like a pit of lava and clutching at your throat so that words, and breath, seem caught within you. But you’re still breathing. Despite the pain, you’re alive. And it’s this to which you need to cling. Accomplish these seemingly tiny victories without pain, and they’ll become the footholds of stability on your path towards recovery. I know it seems impossible now, but one day the same will happen with loving. Do not rush into it. Allow yourself to grieve. You have lost greatly, and all great losses require great lengths of time for recovery. But you WILL recover. And one day, just as easily as you learnt to walk and breath without pain, you will love without pain, too. And when you look back on all of this, and the person who put you into this painful place, take a moment and thank them, for showing you just how strong you can truly be. For survival of a broken heart is a skill we are not taught, until we’re in the depths of it. Send your past lover gratitude and well wishes, and let them go. Allow them to drift into your past once more, as you take those steps forward, breathing deeply, and moving ever closer towards love.

I’ve found myself avoiding the things that used to give me strength in my sense of self. These things are films and movies where love prevails – even if the path is a little more difficult than the lovers hoped for it to be. I’m avoiding them because I’m scared. I always had these dreams, aspirations and goals – the view that my life would be exciting and filled with love, laughter and happiness. And for the most part it has. Don’t get me wrong, I completely recognize that life is what you make of it… And I’ve learnt the hard way that life is a gift and it can be taken too quickly from us all. So what is it that I have no come to fear? That love (that which I cherish) may not turn out as I had hoped. That we are all just human; so mistakes are inevitable; and I am the rule, and not the exception. You see, the exception, she gets the knight in shining armour, kisses at sunset, and a lover who promises to love her forever no matter what – and it happens. The exception says goodbye to the man she’s in love with because of some extraneous circumstance – and he chases her, and pulls her towards him, whilst whispering in her ear and letting her know that everything IS going to be okay. But if I’m to be honest, and that’s what He’s Just Not That Into You tells me to do… I’m the rule.
I always have been, and will continue to be.
And when you’re the rule, just how much damage are you doing by daring to dream of the exceptions and romance your heart longs for?

Then again, there’s an entirely new way to see it, and He’s Just Not That Into You states it as well…

“I may dissect each little thing and put myself out there so much but at least that means that I still care. Oh! You’ve think you won because women are expendable to you. You may not get hurt or make an ass of yourself that way but you don’t fall in love that way either. You have not won. You’re alone. I may do a lot of stupid shit but I’m still a lot closer to love than you are.” – And it’s that, I suppose, that keeps me going. Because I do a lot of “stupid shit”… But I do it with an honest heart, the best intentions, and taking one step closer to love…

Learning who someone really is, can be both the best and worst lesson we have to undertake. Throughout the course of my life, I’ve had the honour – and the heartbreak – of having to relearn this lesson in its many shapes and forms. These lessons have shaped the course of my life, and it’s with bittersweet memories that I’m able to recount its contribution to my life.

I’ve lost many friends to the various in’s and out’s of life’s path. The most recent being the most difficult since his reason for the friendship ending left much to be desired. That being said, his reason was none. That I knew at least. I’d SMS, call, even Facebook chat towards the end, but alas – he wished me a nice life and so I resolve to live it. He was not the friend I believed him to be, not by a long shot. For no friend could punish a friend in the way he has punished me, nor turn any and all care and good done between them into nothing but anger and bitterness. I wish him all the best, but will never be his friend again. And that’s sad. Letting go of friends such as these, special, wonderful, dear friends is hard – most of all when there’s no feasible reason for it – but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that you can’t MAKE someone love you, or want to be in your life. And if someone wants out, you can’t stop them – well, without resorting to kidnapping that is 😉 a little humour always lightens such topics I find.

Now for the flip side. How is this tumultuous tutoring of people’s real sides ever one of the best things to happen? Well, when you’re left more than a little pleasantly surprised. And this happened with none other than my darling lover. The man with whom I’ve been the happiest woman alive for the past three months. Upon first meeting him, there was no electric connections or love at first sight. I found him abrasive and abrupt. Imagine my surprise then when one intoxicated night spent at the Bohemian allowed me to finally experience those long-over-due butterflies, goosebumps and beaming smiles. Finally getting to know the real him has allowed me to get to know one of the best human beings I’ve ever met, and whose existence brings me happiness each and every single day!

So, to end, I say – may the pleasant surprises be many, and the unpleasant ones few and far between. But for every sadness remember that it’s there to purely make you truly appreciate the happiness when it does come. And I promise you. It will come.

When one thinks of taking time and getting away, Magaliesburg is rarely the destination of choice. More often than not, if we could have  a trip for free, we’d be boarding flights and taking trips all over the world! Well, last Saturday my darling boyfriend and I dragged ourselves out of bed at 5 in the morning to make the trip to Magaliesburg in order to go Kloofing – known to Americans as Canyoneering. Not knowing what to expect, we were very excited despite the weather doing its best to dampen our excitement.

You’ll be glad to know, it didn’t! What ensued were five of the best hours I’ve ever spent in the wilderness. Beginning at 9am, the experience begins with a walk up a mountain to the edge of the Revine at a height of about 60metres. After descending down into the revine, it soon becomes clear that there’s only one way out and it’s forward and down.

The first part of the revine is filled with a hint of things to come. There’s very little clue as to what awaits you as you journey down, until you come to a tree with only the sound of water crashing down onto rocks to provide the scenery that your eyes can’t see. A short, but delicious lunch spent here allows for the butterflies to build before the guide – with a smile lighting his eyes – asks who’ll go first. I volunteered, due to my dedication to the “now or never” school of thought.

All went well. Until I looked down. Hanging perpendicular to the rock face with a waterfall crashing down beside me onto jagged rocks can induce more than a little heart pounding. The easiest and most enjoyable part of the abseil was towards the end wherein for the last ten-twelve metres you’re completely free from the rock face and get more than a little wet swinging underneath the waterfall. A brisk – and chilly – swim across the 20metre pool below allows you to turn back and fully grasp the sheer beauty of the feat you’ve just accomplished.

From there, little more remains than to have fun and go forth. There’s no turning back at all from there, and so when the guide tells you to jump into the water off a rock or to slide down the bum slide – a rock worn smooth over time – you do it! You barely realise how tired you’re getting until the fatigue causes you to slip a little more and fall a little more. I escaped the whole expedition without any more injuries than a gash to my right shin from an ill-aimed jump into a pool.

All-in-all, I cannot suggest a more wonderful and fulfilling experience than Kloofing! If abseiling isn’t your thing, another revine is explored in which a jump from a 10metre tall rock takes its place. Such an experience, and less than two hours drive from good ol’ Joburg, I suggest you push yourself outside of your comfort zone and go on an adventure! 🙂

My vagina is an illegal immigrant. Bourne in a land far, far away, snuck across the border under cover of darkness, it takes part in criminal activity and its English leaves much to be desired!

Its fluency rather lies in Spanish, or French, perhaps even Mandarin. It must do, since I can’t understand a word it’s trying to say to me.

Let me explain. The first time I had an orgasm, I was already 19. Almost exactly a year after “All The Darkness” happened. Anyway, the orgasm, it happened by mistake. A complete accident.

I mean, it wasn’t as if I tripped, fell to the floor, bumped my head and came. No. But I wasn’t trying to have one. How could I have been when I honestly didn’t know what the hell I was doing! As for my vagina, try as I might, the words she used in an effort to tell me what was going on made little more sense than, well, than Quantum Physics.

There I was, just lying on my back, legs spread-eagle, and staring at the ceiling, giving the odd moan here and there. Lord knows why, I mean a man must not really hear all that much with thighs cupping each of his ears. Anyway, I was staring at the ceiling… well, actually, I was watching the TV – a documentary about Snow Geese. Fascinating stuff, really! Did you know that Snow Geese only have one mate for the whole of their… Sorry. Where was I? All this stuff about orgasms sort of makes me lose my mind…

There I was, moan, moan, moan – when next thing I know my vagina imploded sending shivers and squirms and spasms of pleasure up and down every single nerve and fibre of my being!

If you missed my meaning, it was good. World-rockingly good!

I may not have been able to understand what my vagina had been trying to tell me, but the giant grin she wore correlated with the warm glow emanating from deep inside of me.

When I’d recovered, I said to my vagina, I said “listen, do that again.”

Its grin disappeared.

“That thing,” I said, “you just did it!”

It stared and me blankly.

“Right now, that explosion!”

It blinked and then raised its eyebrows.

“Come on, you must know what I mean!”

Searchingly it looked around the room, before turning back to me and speaking. “Que?”

Fuck. I took stock and decided that if it’d happened once, it would do so again. But it didn’t.

And all the doubts, and anger, and fear that had first featured after “All The Darkness” happened, came flooding back. Because, you see, my vagina is a criminal. And I can’t go to the police. Because of “All The Darkness.” With the boy. The 19-year old, first in his class, funny, clever, brown-eyed-boy. He’s not a criminal. My vagina is a criminal.

Because my vagina and I – we went to that party to see him. We drank the drinks he bought us, and laughed when he’d flirt. We climbed the stairs and let him unlock the gate when we couldn’t find the key. I knew I felt uneasy, unsafe. But I didn’t do anything about it, and that makes me the criminal. I kissed him back when he kissed me, and let him think I was the kind of girl who didn’t want, who didn’t need. Vulnerable, never vulnerable.

But yes, I told him to stop. I drew the line. I threw away my carefree image and begged him not to… But he wouldn’t listen. And who else can I blame but myself? One kiss, two kisses, three kisses and he wouldn’t stop. I waited for him to be satisfied all the while telling him enough was enough.

But by then I had no vagina. Not the emancipated, self-sufficient kind anyway. Not the kind that many great women before me meant me to have. My vagina was locked away in shame, in hiding, like the criminal that it is.

When I eventually told my parents four years later, I could hear their hearts begging for it not to be true and for me to have kicked and screamed and fought my way free. But to tell you the truth, I don’t remember what I did. When it was over I got up and I left, and buried both him and my vagina deep, deep into The Darkness behind words I chose not to understand.

But now, everything has changed. I met a man, and my vagina and I fell in love. We fell in love with a man who made me love myself first, and it is that which set both my vagina and I free.

Because of him, I’ve learnt that my vagina is beautiful and that I should not only hope for orgasms, but that I deserve them.

Because of him, my vagina can wear its stilettos and little black dress without quivering in fear at the eyes of the men around her.

Because of him, my vagina and I finally feel comfortable in our own skin, our own naked, make-up free skin.

Because of him, my vagina can stand tall and tell the world, “here I am. Read my lips!”

And it is because of all of this, that my vagina and I are free and able to speak in English and finally tell the world:

“I was raped but I’m not a victim. And neither is my vagina.”

Recipe to Fix Us:

1 x Rubber band – To allow us to be flexible, and bounce back even though things might not always go our way – they will always work out!

1 x Plaster – To heal and care for each other.

1 x Crayons – To write down what we are grateful for everyday – and to add some colour!

1 x Balloon – When you are down, remember there’s always something to celebrate whether it be something as small as hearing that I love you.

1 x Tipex – To aid forgiveness and to allow us to move on, into the future, together.

1 x Safety pin – To keep our memories close to our hearts…

1 x Pack of Tissues – To wipe away tears, and clean up messes made.

1 x Rose – To remind us to stop and smell the roses – we’ve got all the time in the world to be us; to be together and to be in love…

1 x My Heart – this you have. And always will have. If I can make your dreams come true each and every single day, I promise I will never stop trying…

And as for the formula…

 You + Me + Love + The Above = Forever….

Having recently graduated and found myself thrust into the big wide world of possibility, I have decided to write out a Bucket List to ensure that I make the most of my days spent on Earth… So, as it stands, here it is – it’ll change and grow, and reach into every far corner of the world. These first few relate to Britain and Ireland, but I’ll post more notes on other areas in the world as I go 🙂

  • Visit and climb the twin peaks of Skellig Michael on Skellig Island.
  • Clubbing in London and Gigging in Glasgow
  • Visit the site of the Harry Potter films – Durham Cathedral
  • Drinking Guinness in Dublin
  • Walking in Wordsworth’s footsteps in the Lake District
  • Getting toasty by toasting the bad weather in the Scottish Highlands (nothing a few shots can’t fix)
  • Make the most of Lewes Bonfire Night in the first week of November
  • Lose myself in Connemara
  • Climb the tallest Light House in Britain
  • Trundle along the West Highland Railway
  • Hoarding books in Hay-on-Wye, Wales
  • Freediving in the Royal Navy’s SETT (Submarine Escape Training Tank)
  • Hit the streets for the Notting Hill Carnival
  • Attend the Highland Games in Scotland
  • Lie on the 2mile stretch of beach in Holkam Bay
  • Ride a boat in the Regent’s Canal
  • Surf the Severn Bore – one of the biggest and longest tidal bores in the world
  • Follow in the footsteps on kings and queens at Thermae Bath Spa
  • Walk the walls of Conwy Castle
  • Folk out under the Sugar Loaf
  • Soaking up the Edinburgh Festival