open window at night

Hiatus 4: I wish habitual

I don’t care much for likes and shares. In the beginning of my blogging journey, it mattered how people received my work. It mattered how many followers I accumulated. It was all ego driven.

Well, most of it. It was also driven by an intense, deep loneliness that I couldn’t run away from.

Each upload was followed with angst as I clicked on every notification, dreading criticism.

I even used to challenge myself to avoid my phone for at least 30 minutes after posting, in the hopes of losing track of time – so that when I did eventually open Facebook, I was greeted with tens and hundreds of messages of praise.

My addiction left me always looking for something funny to say, or something controversial to add.

The validation kept me from taking back my abusive ex. I had an army at my side.

I breathed in internet beef and Facebook commentary sound offs. Being witty and glib, I took more victories than losses, and wore them like accolades as I posted snotty status updates like trophies.

I was receiving attention for being good at something. In my entire life from birth until 25, that had never happened.

As a child I could sort of sing.

As a child I could kind of act.

And when I submitted a written piece to my school’s ‘news team’, I was ‘politely’ asked ‘what must we do with this’?

I was way too smart to excel at PE.

Then my first child was born and I didn’t even attempt to excel at anything else, not even motherhood.

After my second baby, I knew I wouldn’t ever be anything special.

Then came the birth of social media. Or at least its mainstream baptism.

Suddenly, I had the space to share my ideas without permission. I found camaraderie rather than judgement in my opinionated personality… and in all transparency, gave me the attention I so craved as a child. I didn’t have to convince anyone to invest in me so that I could gain ‘exposure’.

My crying in my room lessened as I shared my entire life, from head to vagina with a group of strangers on the internet who liked me.

They really liked me.

We all, in my opinion, have the desire for people to see how good we are, without having to tell them.

And I lapped it up…

Until Lyle died.

And I found myself surrounded by the internet, and still absolutely broken.

An island.

Likes and shares didn’t alleviate the fear and confusion and turmoil in my stomach and head and chest.

Being recognised when I went out felt like a burden. I didn’t want to shower most days. I didn’t want to smile. I didn’t want to care about women who related to my ‘story’. I thought my fans were self-indulgent.

I didn’t want to accept that I was again sinking into the depression that young, insignificant, disappointment Shana had tried so hard to overshadow with bravado.

Even attempting a comeback after a short break, when I did “Hoe 2.0” felt empty and forced. At that time I had already started seeing my husband, I was in an emotionally sound place and still, the absolute façade that is a social following was unmasking itself daily.

When I re-entered the blogosphere after almost a year’s Hiatus, as “Into a Housewife”, I was met with enthusiasm, which peaked, then eventually plummeted as I spoke openly of Jesus, and my new take on sex, love and marriage.

Again, the paper-thin nature of my popularity dangled in my face. But I had grown.

I had already made the decision that my platform was for messages of substance, and that my ego was either to die, or find validation in things of purpose like being a good mother and wife… and person.

I became active in quests for the fair, dignified treatment of mothers.

Click here for my most recent PODCAST with Embrace about my birthing experience at a government hospital.

 

I advocate constantly for the importance of recognising mental health issues like Post Natal Depression.

 

Speaker link here, for when I tell my story of my own PND next month at the ‘Help a girl, Help a girl’ breakfast.

 

And I am a loud ambassador for crediting the work, and intellectual property of others.

It is also relevant to the next thought in this semi-rant, to say that I forwent any beef; in real life or online.

Then, I posted a meme on one of my pages in the last week, and was lambasted for not crediting the owner.

Mind you, a faux pas I apologised for, and did without my knowledge, as there was a branding mark on the image, that was apparently not of the owner of the joke. Yes, the ridiculousness of a feud about an internet image and joke is apparent to me. This is a world I willingly occupy.

Regardless, a creator (not the creator of the meme, but an unrelated influencer nonetheless) whose name I will not mention, but who knows me personally and has my phone number; decided to, what I assume was release his pent up, long oncoming, secret disdain with me; and instead of professionally calling me up and having a civilised, private conversation, chose to add to ‘the daily noise’ of Facebook and rather publicly commented that I am a thief, and “you advocate for giving people credit but look at what you doing”.

An offside attack, which quite honestly could have been dealt with in private.

But as his name, like his dry one-liners is held in high regard by his Facebook fans, and as a creator myself… I understand it was more beneficial to his brand that his army see him in full glory, bashing me and my integrity.

Needless to say, he sold me out like BARNES and Noble; without the nobility, of course.

And yes, I have the receipts.

As the perfect segue: Sign up for my book and I will notify you of its release.

I didn’t write it though.

That’s way too much effort.

But I am not telling you who did.

*

The purpose of the last ‘trilogy-which-now-actually-consists-of-4-parts-because-I-am-inconsistent’, was to bring you up to date with my life. My next blogs will be present continuous.
I will continue to present you with snippets of my life, which are quite frankly better left un-interneted.

The cliff-hanger in the last piece was not as intentional as the previous few. I find exceeding word count to be absolutely pompous, and prescribe to the ideology of “leave them wanting more”.

But here is your final serving, so that I can go back to my regular de-programming.

“This is the third missing child who has been found dead in the last week”, she whispered. The crowd parted, as the coroner led his team to the row of bushes that hid the body from the rest of the world. Her body, shoved in a plastic bag, had been discovered by a security guard making his rounds.

He noticed a group of dogs gnawing at what seemed to be a doll, however at closer inspection, the dogs were tearing away at the little girl’s lifeless body, eating her flesh.

What was most terrifying to me, however, happened 12 hours prior, in my bedroom.

I sat on my single bed, reading “The Secret diary of Adrian Mole”.

My parents were in their room down the passage, my dad already asleep. I have very few memories of him before he fell ill, but for some reason this image is vivid in my head.

“Shana, slaapenstyd!” my mom shouted.

Even weekends, into my late teens and university days, my mother was strict about bedtime.

My mother was strict about everything.

I closed the book, and laid down, facing the passage.

I felt sleep pull at my lashes, and I was at the praecipes when I saw her run past my door.

After a few seconds of eye-rubbing and confusion, I realised that I had stopped breathing, while trying to understand what I was seeing in the passage.

At 15 years old, I already knew that I could see things other people didn’t, but even as I write this at 29 and three quarters (literally to the day), I still question myself during and after each encounter; a defence mechanism I assume, as to agree with the people who would probably ridicule me if they thought I believed in anything beyond their ken.

The shape of a little girl ran past the door several times, but her facial features never sharpened. I stood up and peaked around the corner.

“Mommy”, I asked, not sure of what explanation to offer if she actually answered.

“Ja?”

“Did you hear that now?”

“… Next time say ‘yes Lord, your servant is listening”, she said almost sarcastically; mocking me was habitual. (The pun is too disrespectful to make here)… “Wat is dit, Shana?”

“Nothing, Is the alarm on? I need to pee”.

In the bathroom, I saw nothing. The passage was clear. The lounge, which spanned the entirety of the plot was unshaken. The air was no thicker than usual. I made my way back to my bedroom and got into bed.

A childlike giggle woke me.

When I opened my eyes, I was under a white sheet, trying to catch my breath.

The air was warm.

I attempted to climb my way out of the fabric, but as I pulled it seemed to lengthen, and the more I struggled, the less I could breathe.

I panicked and flailed my arms and legs for what felt like minutes until I sat straight up in my bed.

I hadn’t woken up.

I hadn’t been sleeping.

I looked down and the paisley red blanket was the only one covering my lower body.

It took me a few seconds to realise that I was still hearing giggling.

At my doorframe, a girl danced around to music I couldn’t hear.

She swayed for a few seconds as I tried to make sense of what I was seeing.

All I remember is waking up again to the bright sun, when my mother opened my curtains.

*

Last night Scarlett woke me again at 1am, and we walked and danced around that kitchen, habitually blessing and worshipping God in faith and simultaneous fear. She dosed, but I kept her strapped to my chest. I filled the kettle, and set it to boil while I finally had the opportunity to empty my bladder.

The bathroom window was open, the door ajar.

I had worship music videos streaming at low volume on my phone.

A low hum started in the bathroom. I paused YouTube. Silence.

Shaking it off as imagination, I started the music again, and stood up, and again a low, manly hum filled the space.

I sat back down and made the video slightly louder, but the hum remained unchanged.

I wiped, washed my hands and as I exited, closed the bathroom door.

The kettle clicked off and I put Scarlett in her rocking chair in the lounge, and washed and rinsed and sterilised her ‘bibi’, adding the water to cool until morning. I scooped the formula into the other, previously prepared bottle, and turned to exit as a knock on the kitchen window played on the back of my head.

I purposefully kept breathing.

Keeping my walk slow and unimpeachable by terror, I calmly picked Scarlett up, blanket and bottle in hand, and prayed as I switched off all the lights and walked down the passage.

The kids were snug, Riyaahd was fast asleep, and whoever was outside my kitchen window would have to remain there until daylight.

*

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