Archive for Family

An Open Letter to Indian Men

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2017 by tivaniam

Disclaimer:

This post is guaranteed to offend someone and in that event, I invite you to take a long, hard look at yourself and consider why you find this offensive – perhaps there is some truth to what I’ve said, and if so, that’s the first step in changing patterns of behaviour that are harmful. Secondly, while this is directed to Indian men, solely from the standpoint of being an Indian woman, this does not preclude men from other races who adopt the same attributes.

**********************************************************************************

As a published writer, opening myself up to public commentary and judgment is par for the course. It’s something I signed up for when I committed my life to my craft: to live my purpose as a conscious writer.  I know I am not here to win points. I am here to create awareness through my writing by sharing candid and authentic stories of hope and redemption, based on what I have experienced in my life. This is the only reason I reference my past – not to focus on negativity, but to provide relatable stories that anyone can resonate with and be inspired enough to believe that life can change and get better.

Recently, a newspaper contacted me wanting me to highlight my story and journey with depression. I shared my story openly, and received some amazing feedback from so many wonderful men and women, who felt inspired and hopeful to overcome their own experiences. I’ve had a few people – men and women alike – tell me that I saved them from suicide, which for me was the biggest affirmation that I am living my essence and my soul’s calling.

That opened itself up to lots of interaction with a lot of different people. I received messages from broken Indian women, who are held captive by depression because they’re in abusive relationships with Indian men. The stories shared with me filled me with horror – stories of violence, degradation, humiliation and emotional abuse of the worst kind. It left me emotionally and physically depleted because I am totally ill-equipped to deal with this and all I could do was lend a comforting ear.

Over and above that, the brevity within which Indian men slid into DM’s on every social media platform that they could find me, to strike up random non-related conversations, ranging from complimenting my looks and my legs; to asking for my number; or pretending to need writing work done then asking for my number – culminated in this post. I realised that I may not be able to do anything for these women who are beaten down, but I can use my voice through the written word.

Indian men: many of you were raised in homes that predefined the role of a man. You were led to believe that being a man means negating your feelings and emotions and ruling with an iron-fist. You were raised in a society that promoted ‘manliness’ over sensitivity, relegating the latter to a solely female trait. You were taught to believe that you had to have a partner who was submissive and you had to be respected because you were born a male. Many of you were told that men don’t cry. And as a result, your emotions got suppressed and you became hardened, and suppressed sorrow can only turn into rage. Rage that gets taken out on those you love.

Indian men: many of you were raised as misogynists, considering women as second-class citizens, sex-objects there for your glorification and people of lesser intellect and strength.  This is why you continue to objectify women instead of seeing us in God-form and equal. This is why some of you can confront a woman through social media, commenting on what she looks like, rather than what she is looking AT or trying to achieve. Many of you violate women based on your internal deficiencies and illnesses. The way a woman looks, dresses or carries herself is not an invitation for you to proceed – violently or otherwise. And, ‘single’ does not mean ‘available’.

Indian men: many of you perpetuated the cycle of dysfunction that you were raised with, modelling the role of your own father who was absent or conditioned from his personal experiences and childhood.

Indian men: this is the cycle you will continue with your children – sons who become hardened and angry, and girls who learn how to become doormats.

But, Indian men: cycles can be broken. A new reference point can begin. It starts with you. It starts with talking openly and honestly about stuff that men are told never to speak about – feelings and emotions. I’ve witnessed first-hand the amazing transformations of so many Indian men, who were once plagued by cyclical dysfunction, but who were brave enough to transcend it and pave a new way for himself and his children and the generations to follow. We need to shift into a new way of thinking and Being in this world. We simply cannot operate as the generations that came before us. It is self-evident that they fucked it up. We have to begin afresh and create a shift in consciousness by returning to innocence and purity.

Indian men: my invitation to you is this. Change how you view the world and yourself in it. Let go of preconceived ideas and ways of conditioned thinking and indoctrination. Stop regarding men and women as being separate. Instead, consider all of us to be the same thread stemming from the same tapestry. Teach your sons and daughters that gender specific roles are an illusion – anyone can do anything at any time. Indian men, start believing that a house is made a home by both parties and that domesticity is not confined to a woman, neither is raising kids nor cooking. Understand that women can be the fiercest opponents in business and are capable of running our own finances and getting shit done.

Indian men: understand that violence of any kind is an explosion of the pain that is internal. Deal with the pain and not the trigger of what set you off.

Indian men, the time for restoration is now. The world needs more comforters, nurturers, peace-makers, truth-tellers and game-changers. Indian men, it begins and ends with you. What you do today can alter the course of generations that follow, which collectively is the change we need to see in the world. It’s time to step up and be about something.

Advertisements

Effecting Change: Rebelling Against ‘Indian Woman Syndrome’

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2017 by tivaniam

“Smile quietly” was in the contract I signed when I agreed to be born an Indian and specifically a woman. We are raised to smile quietly because of “what the people would say”, and we are raised to smile quietly “for the sake of the children”. Two principles that I ferociously rebel against, and which I refuse to subscribe to, something that has become such a pandemic that I refer to it as the “Indian Woman Syndrome” although it extends deeply to Indian men alike.  Even in progressive times, this seems to be the mind-set that Indian people STILL adopt.  And sadly, as a result, we stay as sick as our secrets – that which we refuse to acknowledge, face or speak about.

As an Indian, specifically a woman, I was supposed to stay in my marriage for the sake of the kids. Because, what would people say if I chose the alternative? So I stayed. For a while, until death became an option. And I realised that my choice to live my life in sacrifice, wasn’t serving anyone, least of all my children – MOST of all myself.

So I left. Twice. Two marriages, several relationships and jobs and people – everything that didn’t serve me or make me happy. I went against the grain of what I was SUPPOSED to be, and chose to be real. And yes, people judged. Harshly. I lost friends and family. The words I was called and the judgment thrown at me stung me terribly. Enough to make me want to shrink back.

But I didn’t. Because there was something inside me that screamed louder than any of the names I was called.

Saying “fuck-it” to the ideals society prescribed for me meant choosing to turn my insides out, and with that meant not only making different choices, but also doing it vocally. I began writing my truth, living my truth and BEING my truth. And as I shared my life through my words, my truth started setting others free to share THEIR truths. Because there are people, Indians specifically, who knew EXACTLY what I was feeling, who shared the same hopelessness and helplessness and despair but stay in bad marriages or relationships for the children and because of what people would say if they chose to be selfish and do what makes them happy.

This limiting belief system perpetuates the cycle that I see continuously with Indian people. The antiquated, indoctrinated beliefs predominantly stemming from religion that promotes patriarchy and teaches us to live in sacrifice. The need to put on facades in an effort to save face has caused so many Indian people to lose themselves and live existentially, miserable and hateful of the world. This in turn gets repeated with their children who emulate what they learn – the boys become misogynists, the girls, doormats – and without any concept of what authenticity, aliveness, freedom and love truly means. Ingrained prejudices are carried forward and we do not progress as a culture or the collective human species.

So why choose to live in that limiting way?

To try and be liked by everyone? What a waste of a life. Because no matter how hard you work or how self-righteous you think you are, you will never EVER make everyone like you. But, if you make yourself heard, if you live a life that’s true, you will find the RIGHT people to love and be loved by. You would encourage your children to be real and teach them, through example, about self-love and true freedom of expression. Can you imagine the possibility of what the world could hold for them or you if you expanded your belief system instead of following old ideologies that had no place back then, certainly not now, that only serve to make people conform?

Be a rebel. Live your truth out loud. And see the ripple effects of what that authenticity, peace and aliveness does for you, your children and then the world at large. When you choose YOU, you give others permission to do the same for themselves. I am a living testament of that, and so are my children who are happy, well-adjusted, emotionally stable, kind and loving kids NOTWITHSTANDING the fact that I left their dads. Or perhaps…because of it.

Being Brave

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2016 by tivaniam

The most repeated phrase in my holy text is, “don’t be afraid”. Even now, even after all the big moves I have made. Fear it seems, is the predominant reason for any of us to remain stuck. We all have fear. Fear is necessary in some instances and serve to protect us. In other instances though, we cannot allow fear to govern our decision making or let it prevent us from making breakthroughs in our lives.

We spend too much of time wishing and hoping. Wishing things could change or hoping for a miracle. Fear prevents us from listening to our internal whisperings and longings to be brave and do something different. Those whisperings end up becoming a roar if ignored, and most often that roar happens when you’re lying in a heap on your bathroom floor. Why do we need to wait for rock bottom in order to make that move? Surely the drama is not needed? I speak from personal experience here. Meltdowns happened because I ignored the inner voice and then landed on my bathroom floor bartering with God to make the pain go away.

For twenty years I heard a voice telling me, “You’re meant to be a writer”. I ignored the whisperings until it became a white noise that I got so used to hearing, I lived by its rhythm. Five years ago, that voice was screaming at me to be different, to make a change. I was so unhappy doing what was the “right” thing. It was also terribly inconvenient as I was a single mum with two kids and being a writer was scary. One morning, I woke up and resigned from my corporate career that made me miserable. I studied journalism and got to writing. I was not impressive. I garnered no attention. I got lots of rejection emails from magazines and editors who were not interested in my work. I was a novice writer and made no money from writing. But my soul was screaming. It was doing a dance of joy every single time I put pen to paper. And so I pushed through. And then my blog got noticed and one editor decided to publish me in her digital magazine. Then another. Then another in print. Then another newspaper. Now, five years after those rejections, I am published on many platforms, have a day job as a writer and am now busy with the manuscript for my first book.

Being in a state of flow has allowed me to sit with my fear but not be reduced by it. I have walked away from marriages, relationships, jobs and people that no longer serve me – some of them amidst harsh criticism and judgment. As women we HAVE to be brave. We have to train ourselves to listen to our inner voice and trust it. I know the amount of energy that is required to be true to myself and what that actually means. Therefore I know how hard it can be. I know the struggle of the unknown. But I REFUSE to allow women to shrink themselves. It is not okay to remain in bad marriages or relationships or careers thinking that you will not survive with the alternative. You WILL survive being alone. You WILL survive as a single mother. You WILL survive with less money, doing something that makes you come alive. You need to trust yourself and believe in your inherent strength and divinity and light – something that is in ALL of us. Not some of us.

The thing about rock bottom is, you are forced to get real. And the truth hurts. Badly. But that is how life lessons go. We always know exactly what to do. Always. Our heart and heads are often not aligned, but our feelings reveal the truth. That is the indicator of what is right and wrong in your life and where changes need to be made. We get too comfortable in the realm of “not knowing what to do”, but we always know. Always!

Sometimes that knowing, means you have to risk everything and yes, some people will hate it. Some people will never understand or forgive you. Some people may walk away from you. You may walk away from the situation, whatever it may be, with a battered heart. But remember this, if you are afraid to be true, the alternative is to stay stuck in the same bullshit death swamp that you’ve been stuck in FOR YEARS.

And that is not living. That is existing. It’s time to be brave. The time is now.

Finding Courage

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 21, 2016 by tivaniam

I’ve fought my whole life against people who raise their voices and noses; and talk more than listen. The judgmental types who have little introspection and who live in glass houses. It used to irritate me no end and made life unbearable and stifled me from living.

Two years ago, I got the greatest gift of awareness and inherited a tribe of people who want to change the world through Love and Kindness.  I was taught to shift my mind-set from worrying about what people think, to living authentically and courageously. These days, parts of my life do look shiny but underneath it all I am still confused and scared and make mistakes (some repeatedly). Through it all, I choose to show up big anyway.

I have chosen to live and operate differently. Trying to touch strangers by regaling them with stories from my own heart and script. Telling the truth about my fear and the ways in which I fuck up. I invite people in and try to pass on courage, through the gifts I have been given – that of love and storytelling. I give these away as though it’s good enough to heal the world.

Courage flows in all of us like the ocean waves touching the sand. It never stops and never ends.  We consume ourselves with the burden of taking too much of credit for our brilliance or dying in shame for our failings. Life is bigger than that.

The amount of courage that it takes to leave a relationship or marriage that doesn’t serve you; to leave a career that brings no gratification; to take the leap onto the next step of whatever it is you’re afraid to do. As simplistic as driving a car [took me 12 years to learn] or immersing myself fully in love despite several failed relationships [still learning]. But I am all in. No half measures. There are people who skate gracefully on the surface of life, while I live at heights and depths that people can’t see and doesn’t know how to reach. I do not skate. I crash and fly.

Daring to live boldly means breaking free from convention and learning to find ease in risk. It’s time to awaken your spirit to adventure and allow your soul to sense the world that awaits you. Be courageous. Tomorrow is not promised.

 

 

An Open Letter To My Daughter

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2016 by tivaniam

This was originally meant to be a private conversation between my daughter and I, but, in line with what I was saying on Facebook yesterday, the truth is like a boomerang. And this is a concept you would hear repeatedly from me. I decided that there is nothing shameful about being human. There is no way to be a perfect parent but there are a million ways to be a good one. One of those ways, for me, is to free my truth and allow my children to truly know their mum. I believe that we all share similar longings, feelings, traumas, flaws and fears. And if we remain silent about these things, we would never learn how to be better. Or to accept ourselves. I turn my insides out when I write. And with that, I try to help the world become a bit free-er. That for me, is the part I play in this world. I refuse to profess to live out loud if I only do it when things are going well. Who learns anything then?

***********************************************************************

Hello, it’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet. To go over everything…

Just kidding.

So this note comes from me with much love for you. Not just as my daughter, but as a young woman forging her way in this world. I wanted to say that I know I have been a mediocre mother. I know that there are times when you don’t understand me, my choices or my decisions. I also know that you are not at any level TO understand it, but I am hoping this letter gives you some insight into some things – the rest will come as you grow and evolve.

As women, our lives are generally and typically governed for us. We need to be a certain way. I have never been that way. And how lucky are you to be born to an unconventional mother who will teach you a different way of being??? Right???? [I see you roll your eyes kid].

You see, I knew I was different from a young age, and I knew that I was destined for more. I knew that I couldn’t live the life that society wanted me to live and I knew I had to pave my own way. When you and your brother came along, I KNEW it wasn’t only me to think about, but my strong desire to be more, sometimes overshadowed my role as a mother.

For me, being a mother boils down to one thing only – loving you unconditionally and being present in your lives daily. Which is what I believe I am, regardless of distance, circumstances, domesticity, cooking or cleaning or making lunch or doing homework and the rest of it. Love is love.

I know that there are moments you felt shameful for choices I made. And sad at having to explain those choices to others. I am sorry for that. But you will never understand those choices now at your age. But I hope with every conversation or every post you read of mine, you learn to understand ME.

Every “bad” decision was a catalyst for me to grow. It HAD to happen. Every heartache, every failed relationship or divorce, every move we had to make or even now, our separation from each other,  has become a fire in me that burns even stronger. I KNOW that God intended to use me and my story to share His love and hope with people who mistakenly believe themselves unlovable and hopeless. Maybe God loved me back to life for a serious purpose. On the outside it looks like nothing has changed. I have still not achieved the “success” that other people consider important. But [pay attention now because this is vital info here] – crises in life shakes out excesses and leave only what’s important. Crises shake things up in such a way that we are forced to decide and hold onto what matters most. And THINGS don’t matter. Not the money, cars, houses, clothes, stuff. People matter. And who you ARE matters. I am getting to become who I have always wanted to be.

As women, we are creative enough to handle anything and everything that comes our way. That’s what women do. We create. And then we re-create. Then often we have to re-re-create what we thought we were done creating. Makes sense? Probably not. But again, remember the words because it will make sense one day. So while NOTHING has changed. EVERYTHING has changed.

So while it feels weird now, I know that my story is a redemption story and I know that you and your brother will get to know that you have a mother who may not be a mother in conventional terms, but she is a mother who loves her children and who will teach them the art of being true.

Love you my girl. Be a good human.

xoxo

The New Normal

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on December 31, 2015 by tivaniam

This year has been nothing short of dramatic. Very low lows and really great highs. Such is the ebb and flow of life. However, I have learnt that in the midst of gale force winds, I always find my true direction.

The aching I often thought was a yearning for someone, was in fact a longing to return to my truth, to step into my light. It took the greatest challenges for me to learn the best lessons and this year has been nothing short of amazing for my growth and development. The path of a warrior is not easy, yet here I am, finally coming home with my battle scars laced with hearts.

So, this new year I intend to fully step into my glory and light thereby giving others permission to do the same. I intend to live fully and on purpose, surrounding myself with gentle love, laughter, peace, kindness, compassion and light while living my truth.

This is not a new year’s resolution. This is the new normal.

Happy 2016!

A Tribute to a Phenomenal Woman

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 9, 2015 by tivaniam

For the better part of my life, I have been a witness to the exceptional way my mother has operated her life with compassion and selfless service. Nursing for over 30 years and specialising in psychiatry, my mother has dedicated her life to the community in service of families in need. Her efficiency and empathy for people experiencing any kind of hardship has ensured that she sacrifice many hours out of the normal working day to counsel families and extend herself to anyone who needs her, regardless of their social stature.

She has strived to impart awareness of mental health disease to the community and to ensure her patients receive the utmost care and compassion. She has inspired many people in our family to become medical practitioners and pay forward the social awareness created by her.

Most people are accustomed to compartmentalising their work and private lives, not so with my mother. Apart from her passion for her work, she singlehandedly devoted herself to my father when he was diagnosed with cancer, and despite being given a life span of three months, he managed to survive for 18 months solely based on her care.
I have watched, with awe, her dedication to my father at a time where others would have become self-involved in their own processing of the pain of dealing with a spouse dying.

Her consult is sought all the time when members of our family get sick and she is readily accessible to anyone who needs her. Most recently, her brother, whom she is very close to, was diagnosed with terminal cancer and despite having endured the trauma of losing my father, she has stepped up, put aside her feelings and own grief yet again to do what needs to be done for her brother.

This is a woman who has taught me the importance of unconditional love for family –something that is a rarity at a time where people are very much about their own self-preservation and egotistical needs. I have learnt the importance of service to others – a value I wish to pass on to my own children and most importantly living life being passionate about what you do.

This is a 58 year old woman who does not understand the concept of slowing down, who works herself to a standstill and sacrifices herself endlessly in the pursuit of helping others. She is a woman who has an open door policy for anyone, welcoming them into her home for a warm plate of food regardless of time or day. She is the embodiment of strength and I can find no one more deserving of being recognised for the phenomenal woman she is.

 

%d bloggers like this: