Sunday, 11 May 2014

She and I

She and I met through fate. Her presence in my life is a constant reminder to believe that things happen for a reason, and this reason is a good reason, even when it is not always obvious to me at the time. On our very first meeting, our worlds did not collide; I was too sceptical for that. I don't think I liked her straight away. This is not to say that she is not immediately likeable, because she is, but more that I was not easily relate-able. What can I say - I am like that. But I had to admit that I was intrigued by her. My curiosity got the better of me, as it always does, and perhaps to a certain degree, it was desperation, on my part, for something, anything that could be ... better.  When you are pushed against an invisible wall, and you feel like you are slowly and surely being crushed, the helplessness makes you want out, just like that. It wasn't apparent to me at the time, but she ended up being my way out.

Our worlds merge, slowly. In the first few days of spending time with each other, we bonded through food. Obviously nothing has changed over the years: I wanted to eat a lot of things, I was rather incapable of feeding myself, so she kindly fed me (as in provided food for me, as opposed to spoon-feeding me). That became my first impression of her: that she was a giving person. Over the years, I witness an increasing willingness on her part to invest in this relationship where there is no guarantee of positive return: she continues to give, sincerely.

I got to know her and she got to know me. Prior to meeting me (as I later found out), she had heard a lot of things about me, mostly unpleasant, unfortunately, because what can I say, people are like that. Or perhaps, I should have put it as, I was famous like that, but I doubt that I was. I did little to undo that initial knowledge and I am also pretty sure that the first impression I gave her only served to provide evidentiary support of those things people said. Le sigh. I wasn't out to impress her. But I was aching to know if this person was willing to know me despite my shortcomings, my flaws and my weaknesses – and boy, there were (and still are) plenty. Besides, if this thing were to be something that I wanted ever so terribly (and would never admit to in a thousand years) then it only made sense to me that whatever it is that we were about to establish was built on the foundation of trust. Trust is not given freely, my friend, it is earned over time, through hard work and a lot of effort, with constant sprinklings of this thing called love.

The underlying characteristic of a lot of my relationships is that we are separated by distance, the Pacific Ocean to be precise. Needless to say, the physical moments that we shared are limited, and subsequently, physical proximity did (and still does) make everything better. Yet most of the time, it is non-physical. These other moments are equally as compelling, that moment when you close your eyes and you listen to the person's voice on the other end of the line. The moment whereby you know that you have to have this difficult conversation - and we have had a lot of difficult conversations over the years. She finds time for me and in the process made me feel not just important, but more importantly, wanted. I didn't even realise I had all of these issues until I had the opportunity to experience the healing through her kindness.

Because she listens, she teaches me that the mere act of listening can change someone's life for the better. It is almost ironic that the communication that changes people is the ones that involve very little words. A TED talk is almost always inspiring; but when you truly listen, at least for that moment in time, you can make someone feel heard and accepted. She empathises with me; and by doing so, she manages to influence my thoughts and emotions in a positive way. Her simple act of listening is so powerful.  She is a great communicator, she is honest and she is transparent.

She is the person who has shown me how to live. She doesn't have to love me but I feel that she does, constantly, all the time. And as a result, I feel as if I belong. And if anyone of you out there has ever felt the opposite, i.e. not belonged, then you would understand how important it is to feel this way, if only for one moment in time. Because in that moment, everything makes sense, that everything happens as they are supposed to, and that everything is going to be alright.

It was, and still is, a simultaneously emotionally exhausting and fulfilling journey, and has been, by far, one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life. I am so glad that I met her, that I had the chance to establish and grow this relationship with her. She is the one thing that changed my life. Without her, I would not be the person that I am today. She has been my rock, my strength, my counsel.

She is my step mother.


This mothers’ day, I would like to write something about a special someone that has largely been left out on the mothers’ day celebrations: the step mothers.

My parents' divorce still remains, to this day, a subject that is taboo to discuss in the dinner table, although to be completely honest, it depends on who is at the dinner table and what is being eaten, and more importantly, where the dinner is taking place. This is the norm in my family - we just do not talk about the things that are hurtful like this, we do not engage in these kinds of interactions. I personally feel I am somewhat stunted in this department as a result, and for the longest time, I harboured a personal anger that I wasn't able to attribute to anything. When you have been deprived of a family connection that you so much yearned for, it is only normal that you become fucked-up as a result, even when you would not want to admit to it in a thousand years. It is not about a personal denial, or about blaming your parents; it is just a deep refusal to accept that this is what you've got; this is what you've been given, because you were so desperate for something else.

I have always viewed myself as someone who is incredibly lucky, I don't know how I got so lucky, but I realise that in I have been blessed in a lot of ways that I can't even begin to describe. When I think about the moments that change my life, or specifically, the people that change my life, I would list my step mother as the top person on that list.

I had the idea of writing this during last year’s mothers’ day. This is one of those things that I have always wanted to write, and have never been able to, for a myriad of reasons mostly rooted in my fear of other people's reaction. Granted by taking this risk, I acknowledge that there is an impending possibility that unfavourable reactions may occur. All I can say is, to be sceptical of a meaningful step-mother-step-daughter relationship is to entirely misunderstand and undermine the power of love.

Let yourself be known and love with your whole heart, even though there is no guarantee that you’ll be accepted.

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