Sunday, 18 March 2018

She said the WORD outloud...

I flinched when she said the word.

It’s not like I hadn’t heard the word before.

It‘s the way I expected the word to be used that was my problem. 

The word is often said in hushed tones, not to be repeated regularly because it's a repugnant word. Thoughts that trigger shame, humiliation and even trauma. We don’t want to pressure the victim into re-living the situation and we don’t want the picture to remain in their mind for too long. Subconsciously we want the word and the incident to remain separate from us and our current reality. 

I flinched  yet this isn't the first time, I heard this particular girl's story. I read the short bio they provided before I came. We chose her specifically for her experience, and to provide her with the opportunity to speak for others that have been unable to do so in the past. We wanted her to speak up so that the right help and support can be provided for all, especially those rendered mute by the  heavy shackles of shame.

I must confess I doubted that she could do it, I have been here before and many girls have bulked at the chance to speak up. And that's okay. They need to make the best decision for themselves, we need  to help them do that and provide a safe space for them to feel in control. Being able to say 'No' is a decision we support too. 

All though we say our opinion as society is changing for many girls there is a wrongly attached stigma to the word which follows the victim and never the perpetrator. In Roxanne's book 'Bad Feminist' she shares her harrowing experience in the thought-provoking essay " What We Hunger For".  Advance Warning! This essay will remain with you long after you have put the book down. But it's a necessary read that encourages deep reflection especially on sexual assault and how we process violence against women.

' The boy I thought was my boyfriend pushed me to the ground. He took my clothes off, and I lay there with no body to speak of, just a flat board of skin and girl bones. I tried to cover myself with my arms but I couldn't, not really. The boys stared at me while they drank beer and laughed and said things I didn't understand because I knew things but I knew nothing about what a group of boys could do to kill a girl. ' ~ Roxanne Gay - Bad Feminist  (p.143)

'I sat perfectly still and tried to concentrate, but all I could hear was the hiss of the word "Slut". That shame was one of the worst things I have ever known. " Slut" was my name for the rest of the school year because those boys went and told a very different story about what happened in the woods."'
~ Roxanne Gay - Bad Feminist  (p.144)

I was heartbroken when I read this essay. I didn't sleep that night, because I vividly saw the younger Roxanne carrying this shame and burden herself. My nocturnal clock was turned upside down, because I know there are many young girls that have this similar experience, and many boys & men who have never paid for their sins. Undeservedly the victim is tied to the baggage of shame and humiliation that in my opinion belongs only to the perpetrator for not respecting the sacredness of another person's body.  It is unfair, but how can we talk about fairness and rape in the same sentence?

So why did I flinch when this girl told her story?

I flinched because the product of the action was sitting in this girl's lap contently breastfeeding and just a few months shy of their* first birthday. I flinched because the word, 'RAPE', rolled of her tongue with such confidence and certainty . She made eye contact with us, she was lucid. The word was clear, it was enunciated and not one person in the room could ever say when recalling this conversation that they did not understand what she had said or what she meant.

That is what was new for me.

The fact that she could assertively call a spade a spade. Usually when I hear their stories, the girls don’t even use the word rape. The councilor or the caregiver will always use the correct term, but it’s been rare for me to come across a girl that comfortably uses the word. They will say ‘he hurt me’ or ‘ he forced me to be with him,’ or even ‘he forced himself upon me’ .  Sometimes they won’t even discuss it, there will just be a big gap in their story, and when you revert back to the part for clarity, they may be unable to articulate it in words. She may simply look down or get lost in thoughts and you are left to imagine the worst based on their facial expressions. That part of the story is usually discussed in lower tones, sometimes in whispers and no eye contact.

This girl-child was different thanks to months of counseling plus family and social  support. This girl didn’t look away from our asking eyes, she didn’t lower her voice and fumble with her words. She clearly announced “I was raped.”  while breastfeeding her baby in her lap.  This healthy baby was born nine months after the incident. 

The fact that this girl could state what happened to her without hesitation is what shocked us. 

She took that negativity and threw it right back
 at that man who totally disregarded her rights as a child. 

She removed the shame & humiliation from herself and her child
and hurled it across borders, right back at this man.

 Experiencing that moment was profound. 

He was a family friend. A grown man who approached this girl-child and she rejected him. When conflict broke out in her country and the whole village fled to the bush for safety.... he took advantage in the chaos and raped her. He may never be prosecuted for this crime. He tried to crush her budding teenage self-esteem. Place cracks in the first foundation stones of her female confidence.

 A grown man could not  take rejection from a child so he raped her.
Think about that for a moment...
A grown man could not take rejection from a child.
Pause for a few seconds before you continue reading.
Take that thought with you.
Because it doesn't matter how many conversations we've had,
We need to keep talking till perpetrators know, they don't have a right to any bodies' body. 

In the moment that she used the word rape. It sounds clichΓ© but I understood what they mean when they say 'She took back her power’ .This young girl had dreams for herself and her baby and she told us with drive and conviction in her voice that she believed they could be achieved 

 She called a spade a spade. 

I am also learning to call a spade a spade, thanks to her bravery.   

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Dear Queen - Thank God You Lost Those Sunglasses...

Dear Queen,

Happy New Year! Also Happy Women’s Day!

Facebook with their memories brought you too my attention again, and you know that we are a generation sensitive to triggers. In order to allow these triggers to harmlessly pass through and not possess us, self reflection is now a must.

I apologize for my neglect in 2017. Only two letters.

I have been so focused on developing and perfecting new skills, that I completely forgot to write you. 

How are you? Dear Queen, the woman in the photo from four years ago, tell me how are you?

I look at this photo, facebook shared. 

I know the thought that is running through your bones at that particular moment.

I know the thought that is trying to control your life. 

I know what you are trying to hide behind your every breath.

I know the feeling you try to mask with the pretense of 'coping well', because you want your loved ones to not worry about you so much.  For months now they have been propping you up.

 And now you are doing your best to conceal your true feeling.  


You are hiding it. Though it's another badly kept secret cause your eyes give you away. But that’s okay you can easily keep your head down in conversation so that people don’t notice.

There is a scared girl behind those ‘questionable’ sun glasses. Oba where did you buy them from? Thank God you lost them.

Fear is ruling your heart.

Fear that  the monster that is grief will take over when your people leave you to get back to your daily life alone. You are petrified it will overwhelm you and you will be stuck in a maze of emotions unable to find your way out. 

But your biggest fear is just knowing that you are going to be alone. Left to your own devices.

How will  you make decisions again? For months people have been deciding for you.

There is a space there…. where your mother used to be, and you are not sure yet what to do with it.

 They have kept you in a safe bubble for the last couple of months.

They have done what strong women do,  fiercely protected you from the world and from yourself. 

And now they have to leave, back to their lives they must go.  One is planning a wedding, another is returning overseas to pursue her doctorate. 

At night you wake up terrified, and you can’t tell if the nightmares are the birth child of sorrow, anxiety or anger.

You don’t know how you will cope.
You can’t remember the last time you felt this alone.

So I am here to tell you something about you…. I am the women from four years later.

You are okay.
You survived.
You are doing well.
You are on track
You are focused.
We pray. You and I. We pray a lot.

Also next year you give yourself a well deserved  mini break. It will change your life.
Well done Queen for being brave enough to go. 

By the way they will check on you. These great friends of yours will check on you.  These are your people. You are not  alone.

Okay so now you know.  

So until the next facebook memory comes along. Don’t worry so much. We are fine. 

Stay well. Continue to learn. Continue to grow.
You can handle it.
Do you.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Fitness Update #1 : My Motivation to Jump Rope for 30 Minutes Each Day.

So what had happened was...

Somebody took a photo of me....

Posted it on facebook...

 And I was shocked to see myself....

No amount of filters could have hidden what I saw...

I don't know who those hips belong too?

Where did they come from? How did they arrive without going through immigration? Do they have a valid work visa? I am pretty sure they are inhibiting my body illegally...How long are they planning on staying? I had gotten used to the belly fat but those hips...those hips didn't sit right with me.

I promptly decided to get active.

I knew I wasn't going to diet. 😐😐😐

I loveπŸ’˜ food far toooooo much to diet. So It had to be exercise!πŸ˜’πŸ˜’πŸ˜’

This video JMS Vlogs on You Tube was what motivated me. His belly fat melted off in the video, I needed the same transformation. Not to mention the numbers representing his weight dropping on the right hand corner of the screen as he skipped each week; they helped me visualize my weight loss happening. Now I have already written about weight gain on the blog, and I am sticking to what I said the changes to my life style must be healthy and they must be done because I chose it, not because others have forced me too. 

When I was younger I used to skip every day during the school holidays. My Dad was worried I'd get lazy from watching TV all day so he added skipping to my routine along with some other sports activities. 200 jumps everyday was my required amount. No more. No less. It's actually one of the few exercise I enjoyed so  I knew I could do this.

Fast forward to the present day, I started my daily workout with 15 minutes of skipping every day. I would jump 100 and take 10 second breaks in between. JMS Vlogs has a guide video on skipping for beginners, intermediate and advanced . I incorporated what I could for a 'beginner'.

From all  the googling I did on skipping, I learnt that it is a good exercise to choose if you are not a fan of jogging. I had tried blogilates last year and though it was good, it didn't seem intense enough of a workout for me. However now that I am skipping I may add some blogilates back into my weekly routine just to switch things up.

Gradually by the end of January I was able to skip for 20 minutes and now I am up to 30 minutes. It feels great! There are have been some challenges though...

In my next  fitness update I shall talk about the benefits and the challenges I am facing.

Have you incorporated any exercise into your daily routine?
 What motivated you to start?
 Comment below.