I remember the guy who bullied me when I was 10 years old. He was senior, probably in ninth grade at the time and had recently moved to Dubai from India. We lived in the same apartment complex and so went on the same school bus. I don’t know why he decided that he hated me but he did and he made sure I knew just how much. He never did anything while we were actually in school or when we were on the school bus, but the few minutes he had between getting on to the bus and the time between getting off the bus and going up the elevator were horrible. It started with him throwing an entire bottle of water on me just before I got on the bus and then things escalated. One day just as we were nearing our home, he came up to me and said I’m going to kill you filthy lankan. And I didn’t know what to do except to run to hide in the underground car park instead of heading to the elevator. That monster followed me, he chased me around for awhile until I ran into the elevator but I wasn’t fast enough- he got in as well and spat at me and pulled my hair while I crouched in the corner biting my tongue and forcing myself not to cry. When the doors opened on his floor, he just got off very casually and walked off like nothing happened and I went to my house and told no one about it., I was scared because he told me he would kill my mum too. He did this a few times before he got caught by the Manager of our apartment who walked into the elevator and saw him kicking me and spitting at my face. He and his family were kicked out of the apartment complex shortly after and my parents went and complained to the school and he was expelled. I was so scared the whole time because I felt like I had given more reason for him to come kill me and my family.
I had many long conversations after that with my parents, with the school counsellor and the likes who told me all about bullies and how I need to stand up for myself and tell an adult if something like that ever happens again- because hurting another human, bullying is never okay. After awhile, I stopped having nightmares and I stopped crying all the time and I felt safe. I felt like now that I had been through a terrifying bullying experience I would be safe from it and I wouldn’t have to experience it ever again.
Reality had a much different plan, since then I have faced so many bullies in all shapes and forms.
You can’t predict when someone decides that you will be their victim. That you will be the punching bag for all the anger and hate that is obviously gushing through their veins. You can’t predict when people will go out of their way to tear you down to make themselves feel better.
It doesn’t get better with time.
I cried last night because some girl decided that she will take the opportunity to ruin a great moment for me by trying to tear me down – 18 years later bullies still make me feel the same way that boy did back in the elevator. The one thing I have learned through all these experiences is to not let the taunting and hurtful crippling words get the better of me and my spirit and not let that rule my life. It is hard though, so hard.
I am trying hard to stick to them, some are harder than others to be honest. I have had a few breakdowns recently and it has been hard to try and see the silver lining but I promise to keep fighting the good fight. But one thing that I have realised from my major vents to my friends is that we all go through shit periods where you feel like you are lost and it is important to start patting yourself in the back for the smallest of accomplishments regardless of how important they may seem in the grand scheme of things.
Which brings me back to a resolution that I made at the start of this year that I have sort of been able to actually start and keep up so far – my morning routine. Last year my morning routine consisted of waking up just in time for the train and frantically pulling my shit together before dashing out of the door and then binge on coffee and ham and cheese sandwiches to get me through my chaotic day. Now, its starting to take a different shape.
I have now started waking up at 7 am (I am slowing going to try and make this 6am so I can go for a morning yoga class – but small steps!). As soon as I wake up, I drink a glass of water and turn my phone off from airplane mode and read some news. Because I am now waking up earlier, I actually have time to make a breakfast smoothie (which is usually all the fruits I can find around the house, some linseeds and fiber supplements)and take time to decide on what I am going to wear (which for me was fairly a foreign concept to me and it also meant I used the other 3/4 of my wardrobe which I hadn’t even touched previously). I manage to do all this and get to work by 9am which means I don’t need to rush through the day and feel like I am constantly playing catch up. This small change for me has meant a lot, mostly because I have become a lot more productive and I have more control over how I spend my time (oh and I have started to really exploit the ical app which I highly recommend!)
Anyway, that is all for now. Before I finish off, i just wanted to share something I read in an article with all of you:
I know that it is disheartening to keep going when you’ve been stuck in the same situation for what feels like thousands of years, but you have to know that most of the time (not even sometimes) the only way way out is through.
My resolutions for the year – I know I am a little late to the party but I wanted to spend a little bit of time thinking about what I wanted to achieve this year and more importantly how I will spend my time. Last year was a good start but I feel like I was a little too ambitious and didn’t consider all the things that I had going on and i started becoming really overwhelmed, so lesson learned!
Also, I want to write out my resolutions not because they are new and profound goals but because I feel like having them written down will make me a lot more accountable and I will be a lot more inclined to follow through on them.
See the silver lining: I try my best to always see the good in people and be happy with any sort of citrus fruits life hands me but towards the end of last year I was getting really angry with everything and everyone. That kind of attitude made it harder for me to be happy about situations and I became a whiny, complain-y, let’s have a bleak attitude towards life kind of person – and really this just negatively affects me and no one else so what is the point! This year I want to refocus myself and think of what I have learned and gained from the situation regardless of how bad it may be. I am not going to let everything affect me and if it starts bothering me I am going to make the conscious effort to remove myself from the situation or relationship as kindly and respectfully as I can.
See a doctor: To be honest I have been pretty unhealthy the past few weeks and I have promised myself that February onwards I am going to be off of ‘holiday mode’ and get back to paying attention to my body. I need to stop avoiding doctors and go and figure out what is wrong with me (I am currently suffering from insomnia, back pains and digestion issues) and stop cheating and start treating my body like the temple that it is. More yoga and chia seeds and less booze and steak! OH AND MORE WATER!
Be kind: I want to spend more time volunteering and doing things that will help make someone else happier. We get so focused on making our own lives better and we keep telling ourselves that once we are ‘settled’ we will do more for the world and I just don’t want to keep putting it off anymore. There is so much more to life than just working and money and a white picket fence and the world needs more people who have open arms and hearts.
So there you go, my three resolutions for the year to heal my mind, body and soul. I hope all of you who have made your resolutions are able to keep track 🙂
My dad, is a big fan of chain mails and usually I groan when I get any email from him but today he sent me a forward that was actually lovely (GO CHAIN MAILS!). It is probably one that has been circulated a lot but hey it’s still pretty great!
A little girl was holding two apples in both hands Her mum came in and softly asked her little daughterwith a smile; my sweetie, could you give your mum one of your two apples? The girl looked up at her mum for some seconds, then she suddenly took a quick bite on one apple, and then quickly on the other. The mum felt the smile on her face freeze. She tried hard not to reveal her disappointment. Then the little girl handed one of her bitten apples to her mum, and said: mummy, here you are. This is the sweeter one.
No matter who you are, how experienced you are, and how knowledgeable you think you are, always delay judgement.
Give others the privilege to explain themselves. What you see may not be the reality. Never conclude for others.
Which is why we should never only focus on the surface and judge others without understanding them first.
While I have always been interested in helping others and making a difference, my dedication to working with vulnerable women could be traced back to one poignant moment that happened not too long ago.
When I heard this story, it broke me – it made me cry for days because this is just one of many women in desperate need of support and protection.
I was talking to her about why she always seemed tired and sick and whether she had access to proper medical care. She started off with “Miss, you know it’s just that since I got married I haven’t been sleeping very much.” (I braced myself to hear some sort of ‘newlywed-honeymoon-phase story) However what she told me was just something out of a horror story.
She went on to tell me that indeed sex was the reason she was tired all the time – her husband would come home drunk and demand that they have sex. But sex to him was different. Sex to him was grabbing any object that he could lay his hands on and using that to penetrate his 19 year old wife. Sex meant brooms,bottles, tools,sticks…literally anything. Sex also meant inviting his friends (bunch of 30+ year old men) over to their house and let them “play” with his wife while he watched. Most nights I just close my eyes and pray they will pass out soon.
This is her life. Everyday.
Why didn’t she ask her parents for help? Because when she was younger she was raped by her father’s friend and when she told her mother about this, her mother’s response was ‘it must be your fault.’
Why doesn’t she run away? But where would she go though? Who would she turn to? What would they do to protect her?
Over the past year, I have been quite invested in working with women in vulnerable circumstances. Their stories, their hardships, their strength and resilience have shattered my reality and changed my entire perspective on life.
One of the reasons I was interested in blogging (aside from my personal struggles with expression) was to be have an outlet to share some of my experiences with the aim of reaching out to people with the aim of starting a conversation about what could be done (I am still finding my way around working to empower women and it would be amazing to connect with like-minded people).
*I have modified a few identifying details
Anyway, here is one story.
I met a woman who had to migrate because her husband got a job in another country. Although she was a qualified professional in her home country, because of language difficulties and the job market being an overall terrible mess she has been unable to find work in her field. She told me that her husband, daughter and mother-in-law like to point out the fact that she does not provide for her family (I want to say bully – but I am trying to tell you the story as she told me so I will bite my tongue). In order to gain some sort of financial independence, she taught herself crafts to sell. She told me that it is getting harder and harder for her to attend markets because of pressure from home. (I was confused.) She told me that her husband and daughter don’t appreciate having to “walk into the kitchen and heat their food” and that they “prefer to have freshly prepared food and not food that has been in the fridge” (note: she cooks everyday and stores in the fridge). When I asked her if she would like to attend a camp that is aimed at helping women develop their business and communication skills; she told me that she would have to ask permission from her daughter.
Her responses broke my heart, mostly because she was smiling the whole time. I think she doesn’t realise how incredible she is.