Women and discrimination…oh boy

            After my divorce, it took a while to realise what I was up against. This was still in my BC days. There’d be advertisements in the paper for jobs or accommodation, and they’d actually say no divorcees need apply or no women and children, no pets, and so on. That was the norm in South Africa at that time.

            One of my jobs gave me a new company car. But after some months I heard various noises – I liked driving and noticed odd noises that didn’t belong – so along I went to the person who would need to know such things about company cars. He said he would look into it. I never heard. Then after some more weeks, the problem extended to the car veering to the side, plus, the brakes were making odd noises, which I told him. I also mentioned that some models like mine, had been recalled due to faulty brakes. I got the same condescending, rolled eyes look, as if I was bothering him, yeah, yeah, I’ll look into it.  

            One lunch hour I drove into town, to enrol my daughter in her first school the following year. On my way back to the car, I bought a few things for supper, my mom was staying with us for a bit, and macaroni cheese was on the menu. So, the shopping was eggs, milk, cheese etc. plus six dumpy bottles of beer. My Mom and I liked a beer. Travelling on the inside lane down the two-lane motorway, and noticing cars coming on up ahead, I moved across to the fast lane, to allow them to filter in. But the car immediately in front of me, coming on to the motorway, was an old beat up crock of a car, which crawled right across into the fast lane.

            The road was still slightly wet from earlier drizzle, so I touched the brakes ever so gently, they locked immediately, and I had nowhere to go. I just managed to pull the car over on to the inner hard shoulder. Another coat of paint and I would’ve connected with the cars I was now skidding past at speed on my left. Thank God I didn’t hit any of them, and, that the middle of the motorway was still bushes, and not the metal barrier now in place. I continued skidding down the shoulder with locked brakes and holding the steering wheel as tight as I could, to stay on the shoulder, then the car flipped. Over we went, rolling along, then spinning on its roof, and down to the middle grassy bit, which dipped slightly, till it came to a halt, still on its roof.  

            I crawled out of the driver’s window and looked around and up, there were cars everywhere and people running up to me, plus two helicopters buzzing overhead and pickup trucks all over the place. I think I laughed. Wow this was a whole other experience! I couldn’t believe it. I called out my daughter’s name, then they all shouted OH NO THERE’S A CHILD IN THE CAR, and ran to check it out. It was surreal – like in the movies.  No, no I shouted – she’s all I could think of, but she’s not with me, she’s at nursery school.  Phew major relief on all their faces.

Bless them, everyone was so wonderful. They were very concerned and wanted to take me to hospital, but I was fine, not a scratch, I didn’t even ladder my stockings – look – I said jokingly. They helped me gather my things – the pick-up guys had turned the car upright, everything was strewn all over the car, but all intact. The eggs were still in the box unbroken, and the six beer bottles were scattered about – also unbroken! We all had a laugh. Then one of the pickup trucks kindly took me to collect my daughter and then took us to his garage, where we changed cars and then he took us home. The car stayed because it was a right off.

            They let me use the phone first, to phone my boss. I knew they’d be peeved. I wasn’t popular with him or his secretary. I’m sorry to phone you so late, but I’ve just rolled the car and I’m in the garage. “Oh! So, you’re not attending the meeting then, he’ll be furious”! I felt like slamming the phone down, but just said no I won’t be attending the meeting, good bye.

            Nothing was done about it, not that I knew of. Everything was insured so no loss to them. I was made redundant not long after that.

            I wasn’t bothered in the slightest.  In fact, relieved. All I knew, was that a miracle had happened, why me – a dumb nobody?

But I was in a very bad place back then, my divorce bore down on me long after the awful day back in Pretoria, and I wasn’t coping. I couldn’t do anything right. When you believe you are dirt, you just accept the dirt that’s dished out, because you’re guilty, everything was my fault. Besides, divorcees are damaged goods and a waste of space, rejected by society, they conceived and had babies all on their own. It was time I moved on.  I was mentally, emotionally, physically spent. A right off – just like the car.

That was the third major car accident I’d had in the three years. And walked away from them all without a scratch. The first two were in my own car, and none of them were my fault.

Before I was married, I intentionally tried to roll my car late one night, racing round bends and carelessly doing insane things, but it never happened. Too good a driver someone said. I don’t think so.  

Me at the office

Don’t Tell

During swimming lessons in Junior School, the coach sent me down to fetch something for her from the main building. And to hurry. This was at the convent. I raced off down to the main buildings, past the kitchen area. But one of their ridgeback dogs – who used to be tied up – ran out of the enclosure and charged after me, biting me in the leg behind the knee. I screamed blue murder – as you do – but Mother Superior rushed out calling me names – stupid, naughty, on she went, for disturbing the senior girls during their studies. She sent me to the sick room but warned me venomously, that I would be punished later.

After supper that night we all went to the hall, I had to stand on the stage and hit the back of my hands with a long wooden ruler, steel rimmed side down, until they bled. While she said harder, harder.

When I wrote home to tell mom, I was called in and told never to seal my letters again. (?!?) They forbade me telling anyone anything that happens at school.

They often treated me cruelly for no apparent reason. It was a long, long, time, before I could trust people again, and even longer to speak up. I was ashamed for being me, a bad person, and no way out. I was on my own.

Granny was out one day in the school holidays, and left the balding border in charge. He exposed himself and made me touch him, and to tell no one…

Abnormal use of anything is abuse. Authority must be up there as the number one abuse. Inevitably I was moulded to receive it all.

Even when I was back home from school at the end of term, which was only every three months, I still didn’t seem to have the chance to talk about things. I’d end up lying on granny’s bed with my big fluffy cat called Sue. He was so tiny when we got him, we couldn’t tell that he was a boy. But Sue he remained. I loved the name – even my doll was called Sue. I know many lovely ladies in UK called Sue now. But my kitty cat was my only friend then. He’d purr so loudly and lick my cheeks as I lay on the bed crying and silently saying ‘Gentle Jesus meek and mild…’ mommy taught me…that’s all I knew.

Picture from Pixabay

Psalm 131

O Lord, my heart is not proud,

nor my eyes haughty;

Nor do I involve myself in great matters,

Or in things too difficult for me.

Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;

Like a weaned child rests against his mother,

My soul is like a weaned child within me.

The Unspoiled Days in the Seychelles ….

It was so peaceful, sat there, elbows on knees, sitting in my bikini, digging my toes into the sand, the sun on my shoulders, washing over me…melting away the pain.

There’d be no one around at all, on my little beach over the road from our little yellow house. I was in another world staring over the lovely blue ocean dragging on my Gauloises cigarette, watching as the ocean changed colour and ebbed and flowed, gently swishing about –– just me and the shifting sand – mesmerized by flickering shades of blues and greens whilst millions of diamonds danced all over it in the sunlight.

The silence invited me in to that special place of acceptance into nature itself, I felt hugged and ceased pondering my existence. I love the sun, it changes things, the water never stayed the same.

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high

If I had a day that I could give you
I’d give to you a day just like today
If I had a song that I could sing for you
I’d sing a song to make you feel this way

All pictures by Pixabay unless otherwise stated.

Off to the Seychelles

I lived in the Seychelles once. My fiancé and his three business partners were opening up a French restaurant there. They were all Swiss.  I was the only girl, this was way back, in my BC days.

I was thrilled to be starting a new life, but knew I’d find it difficult fending for myself. I was leaving all things familiar. When discrimination rose up against me, I found it particularly hard to bear but kept quiet.   

          We left Joh’burg singing John Denver’s ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’ hit – us twenty somethings were delirious with excitement.  We stopped overnight in Mombasa, Kenya to change flights. We rushed forward with everyone else in the queue; excited that we were half way there. Sadly, I was refused entry because of my South African passport. So, we all slept on the wooden airport benches in the building. My friends weren’t going to leave me. Thank God.

          Landing in the Seychelles was even more exciting, gosh it was beautiful from the air. Desperate to get out there, and once again moving forward with loads of other passengers. But I was singled out as not wanted. They flatly refused my entry for the same reason. In the end, after much humiliation, they allowed me onto the islands as my Fiancé’s dependant, and had my name stamped into his passport. They kept mine.

          I was numb with fear and everything inside me caved in. But I live to tell the tale, and quite a nice turnaround occurred some months later. I’ll explain on another page.  

          The restaurant was also out of bounds. I was told I couldn’t work, not even unpaid. So, hey-ho I got very tanned and started drinking a lot of Seybrew beer. Which came from South Africa.

          We learned to play golf before the restaurant was ready for opening. The golf pro was a handsome, gentle guy, an American from the tracking station there at the time. Priorities, right? Anyway, he taught me a lot, and introduced me to a young, local, palsied boy with mahogany coloured skin. He was about sixteen. A very obliging and caring soul, who carried my clubs (a half set), guided me along, and handed me whatever club to use. I loved sports at school and had good hand eye co-ordination, but was never privileged to play golf. But this youngster spent his life on the course, he also collected lost balls to sell, at least he could earn a little extra. They said his family didn’t look after him.  

But despite all that he was always cheerful. He’d laugh and jump up and down and hug me excitedly, when I had unbelievably good shots. His gangly gait didn’t seem to bother him at all.  Except that he couldn’t play as he would have liked. But he egged me on and pushed me to just go for it. So, I did, despite what was going on in my life and the inferior feelings going on in my head, which he knew nothing about. Perhaps he saw that I was alone a lot. We had something in common. Being abandoned. A little angel he was.  

Early one morning – it had to be early to avoid the unbearable heat later in the day – I was teed up and ready to whack the ball with all that was in me, only to have it hit one of the lazy palm trees lolling about all over the place, and land back behind the tee.

          Sometimes life’s like that – whoops and your worlds turned upside down like an hour glass. And you have to start over.

Groaning as you watch your life slip through the pinched in bit, one pulverized grain at a time.

I’ve lost count of the times that has happened to me. I moaned and whinged, kicked off at everything, and never stopped long enough to be told how wrong I’d been again.  A voice deep inside cried out like the old Beatles song – help me if you can I’m feeling down – silence can be so loud.

All pictures by Pixabay unless otherwise stated.

Welcome to my blog

My blog is about talking – sharing thoughts, even things that have shaped me. I was never one for saying much. So I still feel as though I’m climbing a mountain when I’m trying to express myself.

Some of us had it tough growing up – especially the quiet, shy, withdrawn types, or felt neglected ones, or maybe just different. Silence was safer.

Bullies are attracted to those. They get a perverse thrill ridiculing others’ in public. Bullies need an audience. Being dumped on over and over again, piles up inside our heads and pushes out all hope and reason, until we believe it. Even if it’s not true! We feel no one is on our side, because no one ever cares enough to tell us anything different.

That cuts deep down, because it rips out trust and replaces it with a shocking realisation (in our minds) that we’re unacceptable, just for being the way we are.

Sometimes we want to change ourselves, be someone else, just to be accepted, anything, not to be noticed or picked on. Maybe even run away, or harm our bodies, because that must be what they all hate, so we hate it too. Or even worse, we think of ending it all, because living with those feelings on your own, makes us feel like outcasts.

Someone once said, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I was terrified of being punished or laughed at – never allowed to make mistakes (or learn) so I avoided people and talking.

In my solitude I analysed everything, and wondered why it was all happening. Then I recognised pain in others and wanted to help, but fear and unworthiness, held me back.  

My life drifted along aimlessly, like a dead twig on a stream. Each time I hit something I changed direction…

I went all over the place – unaware that I had a Guardian Angel watching over me through it all. The Lord Jesus Christ.

Here are some of my experiences I wrote down many years ago, but wasn’t sure how to tell it. Some from when I didn’t know Him as The Lord God, and some when I did. He was in control anyway. How privileged was I to have been graciously drawn in, albeit decades later? But there was much I had to learn through painful suffering first, because I just wasn’t listening.

All pictures by Pixabay unless otherwise stated.