23 August 2017

I first posted this blog on Facebook immediately after my piece on “The Mating Game”.  The latter got me thinking and it jarred my blogging for a few days.   I contemplated my emotional disturbance about the unwanted ‘predatory’ advances I had been receiving from unknown males who were sending me friend requests on FB daily. Of course, on a platform such as Facebook, that comes with the territory. My deep disturbance by this attention was unexpected and made me ponder about my personal growth and what I was supposed to learn from that experience. Most people, I am told, would feel flattered by the attention and not be offended by it. I cannot confirm how most people would react, but I suspect this may be true for many. The offence I took is by no means a reflection on these unfortunate souls, who may or may not mean any harm by their advances. Rather, it reflected my own deep-rooted feelings of resentment towards males. If I dig deeper into my psyche, I cannot deny that my fear of objectification makes me less than compassionate and tolerant towards males. Perhaps it stems, again, from my early experiences of being molested as a child, bullied by male elders or being in an abusive relationship briefly in my late twenties. But how long am I to hold on to these experiences and let them colour my perception towards males in general?  When any man deigns to approach me I react with suspicion, distaste and resentment. Some of them may be single, in search of love and are trying every avenue to find someone. Others may just be lascivious wanton beings in a diabolical search for self-gratification. Their behaviours, attitudes and motives are about themselves and their own needs and have little to do with me. Yet I receive their advances as a personal affront. My responses to females on the other hand is overtly compassionate. I almost feel like women need more support to fight the onslaught from unscrupulous males. The irrationality of my responses to the sexes weighs heavily on me. It is not that I fear men – certainly not any longer. Perhaps I resent the advantage they have had over women since time immemorial and the sense of entitlement that I think they have (whether real or imagined) to assume dominion over women in some form or another. I cringe when men patronize me. I take the smallest advances from them as a slight on my integrity.

My plight is not to change their behaviour, (being entirely incapable of such a feat), but to examine my own. So, what if a man acts inappropriately? It should not disturb my equilibrium to the extent that it does. I can be forgiving towards women, why should it be so difficult to shift my mind-set towards men? I am holding bitterness and harshness which is toxifying my relationship with many males on this planet. That bitterness can only hurt me. I have truly forgiven the man who molested me. I know this because I met him at a family function I attended when my 16-year-old was just a toddler.  I spoke to him for the first time in years. His face looked bright, unlike I had ever seen him before. I approached him and struck up a conversation. It was not difficult. This man had lost his 2-year old son some years before in a drowning accident, and I recall feeling a sense of satisfaction at his loss at the time. I cried when I heard about it, and recall saying that he hurt other people’s children and now God took his child away. Yet, as I stood in front of him on that balmy evening, and he told me how his wife had just had an unexpected baby – ‘laat lammetjie’ (a child born many years after its siblings) after fifteen years, his face beaming with a mild glow, I realized that he had to make his own peace, and that God ultimately is all forgiving and compassionate. God had taken away from him and given him again. I had to release the hatred and blame I had nurtured so carefully over the years, and I felt the flood of forgiveness wash over me like a gentle waterfall. I felt an emotional release that was almost physical. Although my Dad, God bless his soul, had worked with me on dealing with it and had counselled me through the experience, I felt the culmination of that process when my heart released the hatred and malice.

Although I experienced the beauty of letting go, I ask myself why the resentment towards men still lingers, and I remind myself that there are many other males I may not have forgiven. I have not forgiven the Arab who almost killed me, or the men who groped me or tried to force me into submission in subtle or overt ways, as I was growing up, or said crude or inappropriate things to me thinking it was OK, or my overbearing male Standard 4 teacher who told me I would amount to nothing. Even my beloved father, (May he receive the highest blessings and peace on the other side), whom I bore no resentment towards and who was my mentor and teacher, had dominated and bullied me at times over the years. Have I secretly born resentment about it that I dare not allow myself to see, much less forgive? And most importantly, I have not forgiven myself for being a victim. It made me feel weak and I detest weakness. Was it really them or was it me walking into those situations and not having the assertiveness to make the right choices and stand up to them? Did I choose to be a victim? I suspect the answer is a resounding Yes. And yet, even it is so, I must see my own context and forgive my weakness in these situations. I must be kind to myself and accept that I am human and am learning and making mistakes. So too must I be compassionate to these men who are errant mortals like me. Even if their behaviour can be described as diabolical, sometimes they act out of their own fears, confusions and distractions, sometimes with good intentions and sometimes out of selfishness and gluttony. Whatever the motive, the key is that like me, they are not perfect. I take my responsibility for allowing myself to become a victim and continue to work on forgiving myself. I suspect that when I break through that barrier, I will, God willing, find the compassion to forgive the men who have been the object of my derision and resentment for the better part of my life. I had seen so clearly that fateful night, God’s mercy and forgiveness of a man who had sullied a six-year-old child, that it humbled me and crumbled my malice towards him. If there is forgiveness and compassion from the Creator, for even the most heinous offenders, if they but seek it, is it not fruitless for me to harbour hatred, bitterness and bad judgement towards people who have erred against me? Is it not debasing to hold that resentment towards men who played no part in those follies? Everyone has a story. Everyone has pain. My own story or pain is not greater than any other. That is the beauty of the equality of our existence, whether we are men or women. I continue with my struggle. Till next time God-willing. All my love, Radia ❤