“Baby, let’s go to gym…”
Riyaahd stared at me for a second too long and responded; “Jimmy’s killer prawns?”
Die bra vat mos v my v n poes.
I am one awkward bitch.
It’s true. Picture the BFG, meets resting bitch face, meets someone who swears a lot but tells it like it is but also doesn’t like speaking to people, but was also abused. But can’t stop smiling – although, I am not sure whether I am smiling because I am friendly or because I am awkward. And I always wonder if other people can tell.
Don’t even get me started on when I am drunk. Or dieting. Or having a bipolar manic episode.
Being in my head is exhausting, especially because a large chunk of life happens outside of my head… and I have no control over it.
Let me explain.
In January, I challenged myself to do things that scare me. Most of it is public speaking and cutting people from my life. Standing up for myself is easy when I am writing a blog, or a vague yet victimising Facebook post. But because of how I am wired upstairs, actually entering into conflict willingly, no matter how justified terrifies me.
I am always scared that when I put my foot down, the other person will raise their voice and admonish me. And as I have already deemed everyone I come into contact with as an authority over me, their shouting would basically embarrass and destroy me.
Regardless, I still have many people in my life who I would like out of it, and one day, I will tell them. Politely.
But thus far, I have made positive steps in self-development. But I am pretty sure yesterday I took two steps forward… and one step back.
On Wednesday I was a guest on Afternoon Express. It is a live TV show with amazing hosts, and I was honoured to be welcomed by the cast and crew. I enjoyed my time there. This blog is not about the show, but about my observations of myself and my psyche, as well as what happened before and after.
That morning, I was once again disappointed by my automatic inner turmoil. I wanted to be strong and confident and make eye-contact… My anxiety, however wasn’t interested. I was so stressed out that I induced an early period. My menstruation cycle mos also fokken wanted to be on TV. So now, forced to wear reinforced underwear in the fear of bleeding on Jeannie D’s couch, I was bloated and heavy bewis of my vagina.
Whenever I meet people, I always do my best to be kind, polite, respectful… and my energy lowers itself so that I am inoffensive. I think this comes from years of being told I wasn’t one of the best students, women, people… so it now just happens where I automatically recess into the smallest in the room. For the last week I stressed internally about the chances of me saying something irrevocably stupid on air. My constant fear of misspeaking or accidentally falling in front of South Africa is actually fucking debilitating. But, as with the show, and being on YOH Radio, and doing a few live talks and interviews over the last few months, I have started to find my Sasha Fierce more and more… although, to be honest, she is more of a Sasha Moderate.
As I made my way home in the passenger seat of my friend’s car, I felt surprisingly lekker. I had on a pretty green dress that was a size too big so I felt comfy around the stomach area. I was scrolling through social media, liking all the support and well wishes I was receiving. I even bought a family feast from Kentucky cos I didn’t smaak to make food. Things were good.
Then, a message from a friend sent me spiralling out of control mentally. I checked Facebook to see something I haven’t seen in a long, long time.
Okay, maybe not as in the gangster rap use of the word, but I had almost forgotten what it felt like shortly after Lyle had died. It had honestly slipped my mind that there was a whole group of people in Strandfontein who say that I am lying.
I sat for far too long when I got home, just remembering the anguish and sadness I felt in the days leading up to his funeral. At the time, I received threats of violence against myself and my family. I was told by the lovely self-righteous bitches who run the St. Phillip’s church (note: not Jesus) that I wasn’t allowed at his funeral. When your abuser’s family is friends with everyone in a position of authority at the church you attend, no matter how self-appointed and ego driven the authority is, it is very easy for you to become isolated.
I sat and read the comments of one particular person, who then tagged his friends to ‘defend Lyle’s honour’.
Very interesting points were made. I would like to offer evidence to counter these points – much like I did on the post and comments on Facebook. I plucked up all the courage I could, and delved into a folder I hadn’t opened in over three years.
“Evidence”. Immediately as I opened it, screenshot and images and voice notes from what seems like a lifetime ago covered my screen. I chose not to maximise them, because even though years had passed, a part of me, somewhere not so deep inside my stomach was rattled and felt nervous. A nervousness I thought I had put behind me.
I took screenshots and posted them on the chat.
In order to remain respectful, I will not reveal this person’s name. From here on out I will only refer to him as ‘Naaier’.
My last message to naaier, was a sincere “Go to hell, Naaier. Perhaps you and Lyle can reunite”.
He responded saying that perhaps I should have died instead.
Now, before I dissect exactly why that attitude is problematic to victims and survivors of Gender Based Violence and women in general… I would like, for the sake of transparency, to share some screenshots with you.
Here is a slideshow.
These are only a few of the milder ones I felt comfortable sharing.
I am not sure if I have ever shared the above with any or all of you, but I will say that I endured four years of this language, treatment and mental abuse. This was besides the physical abuse – physical abuse that many of the friends who are now defending him, saw first-hand. The night Lyle drove into the wall to try and kill me, we were at his friend’s birthday party, and many of them, were outside.
His friends and family also love to say that I am only speaking out now that he is dead. This is also not true. My blog started one year before his death. On my blog, in the comment section, you can still see his comments, in which he both admits to his abuse and ridicules me.
So many women endure this type of language and behaviour in their relationships.
At the time, I was convinced that this was how men spoke to you when you were disobedient. I was groomed to stay. And I don’t want anyone, whether I like them or not to ever be where I was. Not physically. Not mentally. Most importantly not spiritually. Parts of me are still blackened by this time, and my life has never been happier. I am a broken person because of what happened to me.
But I have to stand up again for one reason.
You see, if I allow them to call me a liar and I buckle… any woman who has shared her story because of me might lose her nerve and think that she will be attacked and victimised too in her own life. And I simply cannot allow that. So my nervousness and awkwardness and fear may come along for the ride, but they will take a backseat.
I don’t blog for money or fame.
You don’t put your most embarrassing, vulnerable self on line if you want to win any popularity contests. I want the normalising of abuse, and the praising of abusers to end… even if I have to humiliate myself in the process.
Also, I want Naaier and his cronies to know that they won’t break me. And I will continue to grow, because I am not the one who died.
And dying doesn’t automatically absolve you.
Hitler died. You don’t see anyone defending him.