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To Live and not Just Exist

Choosing life, happiness, peace and joy. Oh and weight loss too

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Memories

Me

Hello.
You don’t know me. Not yet anyway. I am you, 27 years on.

You turned 40 the other day. It came and it went much like any other day. There was some celebration, there was some sadness. But it passed. Much like any other day.

You worry so much about not fitting in. About not having friends. About what people think of you. About whether your mom and your dad value you. About whether your brother and your sister love you.

Stop worrying. All those nights of tears and fretting get you absolutely nowhere. Not one bit of the energy you expended ever changed anything anyone ever thought of you, did for you or meant to you.

Stop worrying Jessie. You will be ok.

I have to tell you that your dad dies soon. A massive heart attack. Norine comes, and Stephen eventually. And then they leave and it is just you and mom.

In time, you forget what he looked like. You forget what he sounded like. You forget who he was. Because you barely knew him. All that becomes important is whether or not he was or is proud of you. And it doesn’t matter one way or the other. The only person who has to be proud of you, is you. Learn this now. Learn it well. Because you will fight this demon all your life. And it will win. Every time someone doesn’t measure up to the ideals you have set for them. Every time someone leaves. Every time someone disappoints you. Somehow, you manage to turn it into something you did wrong.

Stop. Learn the lesson. Don’t take other people’s shit on as your own. And try to remember your dad as best you can, for as long as you can. Because you will miss who you think he was, who you hoped he was, who you believed him to be every day for the rest of your life.

Over time, your mother develops an unhealthy attachment to you. Your nature, and her nature, clash and crash and nothing good comes of it. It will shape you and affect you in ways that no one will ever understand. Don’t let it. So much of the heartbreak you face, comes from this one simple fact. Your mother, however unintentionally, will mould you into a soul that is very damaged. Stop. Learn the lesson. Don’t let another person’s weakness become your own. But remember always, she did her best. It may not have been good enough for you, but it was her best. Don’t turn away from her. Love her as best you can. Because she is your mom. And one day, she will be all the family you have close to you.

When you get a bit older you are going to fuck up monumentally. You will think your life has ended. You will think you will never recover. You will believe that you are done. Don’t. Stop. It makes you strong in ways that no other person will ever be strong. Although the fear of it will haunt you forever. You will recover. You will get better. You will be okay. I promise. Just keep breathing. One breath at a time. This one moment does not define who you are. You fucked up. You are not a fuck up.

Even older still and you will get sick. Some weird mystery illness that they still argue about. Stop. Don’t let any doctor who you think knows better, tell you who you are. Don’t let them pump you full of the meds that will balloon you to 170kg’s. Don’t let them. Question everything. Make sure it makes sense.

Older still, and you will realise that you are ok alone. But that being alone all the time is hard. It is hard to never have anyone to rely on. It is hard to do everything alone. But you will find a few souls that hang out in the periphery of a life. Always there. They love you. Find them. Keep them close. You will need them.

One day, you will realise that your family is made up of so many animals. People will laugh at you when you call a dog your closest. Don’t care what they say. Every single life in this life, is worth love. Love them completely. Time will come when they will become your reason for waking. Your reason for going home. Your reason to be.

So much doom and gloom. So much to face in a short life.

And I haven’t even really started.

So let me tell you this.

You are beautiful Jessie. You are compassionate and kind and generous and smart and funny. You are loyal and true.

You are beautiful.

I am proud of you.

Every little bit of you.

Every big bit of you.

Every broken bit of you.

Every whole bit of you.

Learn your lesson Jessie. You matter to the only person that matters.

Yourself.

You are exactly who you are meant to be.

And you are awesome.

The joy of the dance

I got to thinking the other day about the music of our lives. How some songs stick with us through the years and remind us of better, or worse, times.

How the music of our parents reminds us of a war maybe, or a hardship, we did not personally live through.

How the music of our peers reminds us of a person, or a place long forgotten.

How the music that reaches down into our very substance and speaks to us can truly defines us. It is not necessarily good music, or well written. Or even popular. It is a chance meeting sometimes, lyrical beauty and depth hiding in the places you least expect to find them.

It is the songs of our innocence Pink Toothbrush by Max Bygraves. Of the times when dance and imagination and bravery and joy and solitude were the things that made us whole. When drama and performing were an option Yellow Submarine by the Beatles. Where Jeremiah was a Bullfrog by Three Dog Night was the best thing you ever heard, innocent and silly.

It is the songs of loss Amazing Grace by Celtic Woman sung at the funeral of a father you never really knew. And the song your mother used to heal herself We will meet again by Vera Lynn.

It is the songs of growing up where The Locomotion by Kyle Minogue was on everyone’s lips and we weren’t ashamed of it. Where the difference between a singing and speaking voice was endlessly debated Never gonna give you up by Rick Astley.

It is trying to find a place that accepts you, and liking what you think will find peace, and learning to love it for what it is –

Satan bites the dust by Carmen

The Champion by Carmen

It is the beginning of the formulation of your own musical identity –

Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen

Bed Of Roses by Bon Jovi

Losing My Religion by REM

Maria by Blondie

Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve

Take On Me by a-ha

Johnny Come Home by Fine Young Cannibals

“Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance

The list is too long to put here…

It is to this day the memory of some of the most beautiful music you remember hearing. The kind that they rarely make anymore –

The Rose by Bette Midler

Power Of Love by Jennifer Rush

It is falling in love with the songs that tell a story –

The River by Garth Brooks

The Thunder Rolls by Garth Brooks

The songs you love because you have to –

Jessie by Joshua Kadison

It is my God song –

Nothing Is Written by Mumford and Sons

And it is the song you identify most with –

I Lived by OneRepublic

There will be more. Songs that remind me of people, places, times and events. Some will be joyous, some traumatic and some sad.

Songs of love, loss, joy, triumph.

The songs that resonate with my soul.

Memories of Family.

Today, I thought about family. About how they are born, and how they are chosen. And I remembered my dad.

I don’t REALLY remember him. He died so long ago, before my memory was strong enough to hold onto him.

I think, over time, loss becomes allot like a freckle. I don’t see my freckles every day. I don’t notice them. But they are with me and part of me.

Anyway. I remembered my dad. The only really clear thing that my mind held. His laughter and his smile.

So I found the dance of joy. Because he loved it so much, and laughed so hard, I’ve managed to remember the sound of his laugh.

Age

So I turn 39 tomorrow. I have resolved that it will be the last progressive birthday I will be having. Presents still mandatory into the future though.

Thing is – I don’t feel 39. I don’t even feel 29 or 19. Apart from a whole lot more darkness in my heart and spirit, I don’t feel like time has passed.

So forgive me if I reflect.

I have loved. Or thought I loved. And lost very badly. I learnt along the way that it wasn’t love. It was the broken pieces of my nature that needed to fix / be loved / help. I have yet to love. And be loved. Doesn’t matter though. For I have learnt to love myself for who I am. Mostly. The journey is ongoing.

I have cried for friends that have passed me by. But I have learnt that those that are meant to stay, do. And those that leave make space for better ones.

I have buried a father I barely knew. Barely remember. He died too young and because of it, I grew up alone with a broken mother. I have learnt to forgive him, and God, for the reality I found myself in. And I look forward to meeting him again one day. Perhaps he will even be proud of me.

I have learnt to accept a mother that is damaged. Still she manipulates and plays on my feelings and still my nature allows it. But I have come to realize that she is not doing it out of vindictiveness or malice. She is simply broken in her own way, and was perhaps never afforded the opportunity to heal herself. She is my mother, she is old, and I love her.

I have made my own version of an immediate family. Friends, animals, my mother. A sister I never thought I would get along with, who carries me more than she should. Who gets me through sometimes. They care for me and I care for them. And in the dark moments – that is enough. Love is always enough.

And forgive me if I look forward.

I will be who I am. That may seem to be a strange statement, but it has taken me an age to accept that I am me. And it has taken me even longer to just be me.

I will keep dreaming of the day that I get to sit on a train as it slowly winds its way through to Alaska. Perhaps someone will join me. Perhaps I will be alone. But it will always be my dream.

I will strive to be the healthiest I can be. Every day my lungs get a little better I think. And every day I hope to lose a tiny bit more weight. One day – I will walk into a shop and buy a small to medium pair of pants off the rack.

I will try to write more. Because in the writing I find peace. Allot of tears, but also peace.

I will love my family as much as I can. No soul is meant to walk this world alone.

I will love my God as I always have. He has seen me through some serious darkness. With patience and love.

I will be who I am, love who I care for, dream big, diet more, exercise allot and write.

I will be who I was made to be.

Breathe

My sister is 9 years older than I am. I have many memories of her friends being kind to a kid sister.

Rika was a friend and a character I remember true.

She was diagnosed with cancer less than a year ago and given a year to live. She filled every moment of it with gusto, kindness, strength and compassion.

She didn’t make a year.

She died in the arms of the ones she loved. I cannot fathom holding the one you love when it is their time to let go. I can even less fathom letting go.

The world is changed now. For a good soul has left this place.

So remember that you are cherished. You are loved. Breathe deep and breathe long, for every breath you take is a gift to the ones you love.

Breathe long.

You will be remembered Rika. Rest easy now.

 

 

Time removed from Memory

Sometimes, you just have to write things down in order for them to make sense. For whatever reason, your brain gets too full, too convoluted, too bogged down and the endless circle of thought and rethought is… well, endless. Allot of this blog will be about me trying to make sense of my rethoughts, amongst other things.

I have this slightly weird memory issue. As in I don’t have one. While I remember various parts of my life, some mundane and some not so much, huge gaps of time are lost to me. When I am not missing a particular memory, then I am quite content to believe that this space in my recollection of time is a blessing. However, there are times when I intrinsically know that I am missing huge chunks of a childhood, a life, a relationship, a period in time – and the sense of loss is profound.

I do not think that this loss of time is due to any massive trauma or actual choice that I made. I think it is just a part of me, and oddly, my sister. As much a part of our genetic line as our freckles or particular sense of humour.

What I do remember is difficult to articulate. It is taste and love and isolation and running around in an unseasonal and atypical snowfall, hotdogs in front of the SABC’s big round and ugly test pattern, Macguyver in black and white, the freedom of the ignored, horses, dogs and  fantasy.

I believe that some of what I remember is absolute truth, and some is based on the stories of truth that families tell each other over many years.

I was born in 1975, a very late edition to an already established middle class family consisting of a working dad, a housewife mom, a 12 year old brother and a 9 year old sister.  I don’t know if I was planned or if I was a glipsie – not that it really matters, late is late and the reality of being born late to a family already being torn my division meant that I spent huge amounts of time alone. So to say that I didn’t really fit is putting it mildly.

I have overwhelmingly good memories. All of them in isolation to each other. The smell of a horse. The freedom of a slightly wild child on a farm. A neighbour child and myself being naughty, as only farm children can be. My first fireworks. Fresh milk. Homemade biltong. The smell of my dad. The laughter of the workers. A snake.

However, too often the gaps are telling. Or maybe the missed memory is telling. For example – we moved from the farm to Cape Town when I was 13. But in my memory of the farm I was always young. I am always young. I don’t remember being a ‘tween’ as it were. My memories of the time are confused and jumbled and I think I remember things out of time.

It is a very odd sense of being. To this day, my memory works like that. Not in any obvious way, and I never really realize it until someone sends an offhand comment my way: “Remember when…”

And I really don’t.

I sometimes wonder if it hasn’t left an indelible mark on me somehow. A shadow across my personality if you will. Perhaps in the not remembering, that is why I doubt and second guess myself always.

Then again, perhaps in the not remembering, I am protecting myself?

I chose to believe that in the not remembering, I am making space for awesome.

 

 

 

Malachai

Once upon a time a little girl that was born 9 years too late. She was an oopsie.

She was born into an angry family.

A mother that was so insecure she was jealous of her eldest daughter’s relationship with her father. A father that was not strong enough to stand up to his wife. A physically broken brother. An emotionally shut down sister.

She grew up ignored. Alone. Isolated.

She taught herself to read and by grade 1 was arguing with her teacher about whether Little Women was appropriate reading material or not.

She taught herself to be. To be loved and wanted in a world that only existed for her.

In her mind. In her soul.

A world filled with loyalty and honour and friends and love and hugs and daring bravery.

A world filled with violent blue and black skies and creatures filled with humour and courage.

A world the complete opposite of reality.

Reality was lonely.

Alone.

Filled with fear and timidness and no voice.

No life and no soul.

Reality was blocked out – to this day, she does not remember it. She refuses to remember it. It was not physical. Nor was it sexual. It was just pure neglect. Emotional. And something more. Something there is no name for. It was… non existence.

She played with the animals on the farm. She climbed the trees. She roamed the day and the night and no one saw her.

She grew a bit wild. And her teachers didn’t care. They punished her for being smart. They punished her for being different.

She roamed the wild places, and filled it with safety. The safety of intangible. The safety of what her mind could control.

And one day, she imagined freedom. And it was powerful and dark and scary and life and soul and blue and black and purple and swirling mist and love.

It was Unicorn.

His name was Malachai.

His name is Malachai.

And he is her memory of life.

Her memory of living.

And he took her from the dark places and showed her the light in her soul.

He lived the fear with her. He lived the tears with her. And he was where she kept her sanity.

He is where she keeps her sanity.

She etched him on her body, when she was old enough.

And she keeps his name, his courage, his shadow close.

Because he is life to her.

Freedom.

Power.

Courage.

He is her.

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