Growing up RICH

outdoor-bathroom-at-belmond-khwai-river-lodge-botswana-conde-nast-traveller-26jan15-prBathing while overlooking  vast acres of land layered with sugarcane, and cows grazing in the open fields. Waking up to the sound of the wind and other exotic creatures. Picking cherries, guava, tamarind,  starapple,  guineps and other fruits during the summer time to snack on. Watching grandma make marmalade and cherry jams from scratch and adding Pineapple Lasco to oatmeal porridge for lunch. Waking up to Johnny cakes, dumplings,  eggs, bananas, bread and other foods that were in season at the time for breakfast EVERY morning.  Watching cornmeal and potato pudding being baked over a coal stove. This is how I spent holidays spent at my father’s parents house.

My days after school were spent creating plays and stories and reading books that I couldn’t understand the plot. Eating syrup and crackers to pass the time because grandma’s method of cooking was not easing the level of gas in the stomach.My grandfather died years before I was born so my experiences with him are non existent.  This was at my mother’s parents house.

I am a dry land tourist. I’ve been to every parish for sight seeing, special assignments through work (mostly with daddy), anniversary getaways and school trips.

Living in Kingston has exposed me to the finer things in life. Retreats and conferences out of town,  courtesy calls at King’s House, lunch with executives etc.

However having these experiences doesn’t mean that I have not seen bad times. I’ve seen my mother fashion chicken back in more ways than one. I’ve had cornmeal porridge so many times that on one of my most recent visits home, I asked mommy for cornmeal porridge only -she thought that I was joking. I had my first try at sweet and savory chicken foot one Sunday evening when that was the only thing in the house for dinner.

I’ve learnt to be appreciative of what I have, years after learning in University that I wasn’t rich. However I’ve been blessed to have hand me downs, that I’ve learnt to fashion to my suit. Spending summers at relatives because my mother had to turn up the hustle. To be blessed with a godmother who did and still does her best to provide for not only me but also my younger brother and mother and reminding me that I should live my life for ME.

My house is no vacation house, but it has a vast history. My experiences living and even visiting are those I’ll always cherish,  even if they weren’t always good. I’m now willing to accept it as my dwelling. Once it clean you cyan go wrong. Who wants to clean a huge house?

I’m not rich, but I’ve been blessed.  I continue to be blessed. With these experiences,  they are building me for the life that I want. One where there is less judgment,  where I understand the need to hustle and I am appreciative of what I have. Most importantly I’m happy with who I am.

The Voice Within

I’ve been silent for too long and want to use this as an opportunity to empower and let other women know that they are not alone…..

 

My incident began when I was in Grade 10 with my boyfriend who I knew from Grade 9. My downfall in the relationship was that I never took the time out to know him; who he was, his  background and who his family was. Many times we don’t know the most important details.

I was stifled and beaten. After being beaten, I was brought before the mirror and further degraded by being told that I was ugly. It got so bad to the point in which I was extorted for money- my own boyfriend demanding money from me…..

There was one incident where I was beaten to the point in which my face was swollen. Few persons knew what had happened and others wanted to know what had happened to my face. I went to school and when I got there, some of the girls were jeering me. When I walked pass, one of them said:

“some a dem man a beat dem”.

My self esteem was depleted, I had to make up lies at times to not let people know what was going on with me when the signs were there- I was being abused. It got bad to the point where the police had to intervene and a restraining order was issued for him to leave me alone.

After the relationship I realized that his Dad was beating his mother.

 

A time to heal is not overnight…

 

Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do but I want to make peace with myself. Confidential people are always hard to find. In my experience, persons would be all concerned wanting to know what was happening between me and him and as soon as they get the details; go right back to him and tell him everything.

I must say THANK YOU to my friends Fiona Grant and Andrea Irvine for being there for me in such a tough time. They offered their support and also got me to see the guidance counselor.

No one wants to get involved in domestic violence unless it is public. We see this happening many times even when law enforcement is involved. We should be using social media to lobby against violence against women rather than promote it. The social construct we are conditioned to believe is the perception of men and women. Ladies must be seen and not heard; they must be submissive if not, they are battered. Men want to express themselves but are looked down upon as weak.

It is OK to say that you are NOT OK. Be honest with yourself, if you are not able to you will have problems with others and the situations you’re facing. Empowerment becomes evident when we talk about the things we’ve been hiding- our experiences and what we’ve learnt from them. I chose LIFE over everything. I could have died in the process of being that man’s girlfriend.

This brings me to the issue of discrimination for persons based on their age. The common misconception of adults towards  young adults and children is that we  no have nuttin fi worry bout. Preconceived notions like that have caused for some children and even young adults to believe this. Some persons are going through real issues, some are able to find help while some are not fortunate enough to get it. So many thoughts and emotions are bottled up for many persons out there.  The society we live in has taught us to pretend. Too many of us are pretending that things are OK when our world is falling apart.

We live in a world of pretense (patch work), where we fix some things to an extent so that we can ‘show face’. However there is a whole lot of unfinished business behind the facade.

 

I can Share, I can Inspire

In the same way that the mirror was used to damage I am using it to rebuild myself. Crying is not a sign of weakness but a sign of release. Life is like the seasons, and in order to gain a rebirth we have to loose some things. Just like a tree looses its leaves in autumn.

 

Tina Renier