Archive for Opinions

On Judgment 

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2017 by tivaniam

I’ve been hearing recently about people who speak about the so-called ‘contradictory’ life I lead. Where I profess one thing, and presumably live another. I’ve also been hearing criticism around the way I look with statements like “I am ten times prettier than her”; or statements like “I am decent, she is twice divorced with two kids from two different fathers”. Now, anyone who truly knows me would know that I care a toss about commentary like these because I am aware enough to know that, living in the public eye, sharing my life in all its hideousness and glory makes me susceptible to judgment and criticism all the time. I have come to understand that most often; this judgment is passed by people who sit on the wayside of their lives, with self-righteous indignation, pointing fingers instead of taking a cold, hard look internally. (Sounds harsh but believe me, I am using artistic licence very minimally here).

But this is what bothered me slightly about these recent judgments: they were from women. I am not about bashing another woman. I don’t need to see another woman beaten down in order to feel better about myself. And I guess this is where awareness comes in. And this post is to that end, to try and create a level of awareness for why judgment should never be passed if you are someone who has little insight into who YOU truly are.

I’ve spent many years learning about who I am. I have spent years doing the very hard work to get to a level of understanding about why I’ve made certain decisions in my life. Being a woman isn’t binary. It’s not an easy feat. I’ve stumbled in the dark more times than I can count, breaking my heart and back in an effort to be everything this world required of me. For years, I tried to be the so-called epitome of a ‘decent Indian woman’ by society’s definition and forced myself to be in a marriage that didn’t serve the beat of my own heart. I smiled externally and remained silent, while my insides were screaming and my soul was dying. It took an enormous amount of courage, strength, tenacity and bravery to forge ahead and leave my second marriage because I knew I wanted and deserved more. The flaming spirit that is truly me was literally dying to emerge. And that was a good enough reason to leave. Facing death is sobering. It puts everything into perspective and that is why I have made it my mission in life to always and forever put my happiness first. Nothing else is more important than being happy and at peace.

I have paid my dues and earned the right to put my middle finger up high. I’ve worked myself to the bone to own the bad-ass that I’ve become. I never relied on anyone else to save me; I had to fight until my skin was bare to get to this point. Which is why I am extremely proud to own and embrace every facet of my past experiences: from the two divorces, to the failed relationships to having two kids with two different fathers. I have walked through fire to get to be who I am now and I am unapologetic about it. The reason I make reference to this here, is simply to reveal that not everyone knows my story, so why do people feel like they get a narrative regarding my choices?

Let’s cut to the chase here. This kind of judgment from women to women is a nascent act of violence done in the most sinister and divisive way. It keeps us from stepping into the power we own as women. It also unfairly places the blame on men for sexist behaviour, when women are actually the culprits. Why does speaking about the way I look matter when it’s far more important to focus on what I am looking AT?

It may appear contradictory, if my choices are scrutinised. But, being true means owning MY TRUTH. It doesn’t have to be accepted or approved by anyone else. If it’s true for me, if my intention is only about love and peace and not set to hurt another, then I am not a contradiction, I am still fully in my authentic power. This truth of mine may be terribly inconvenient for others but again, it’s only ever right for me.

Judgment is easy. It’s very easy to point fingers, apportion blame, use slandering words like “whore” or “slut” or “bitch” liberally. It’s easy to criticise a path you’ve not taken, or choices you’ve not made out of fear because then it is far simpler to remain a victim of circumstance. For those of us actually doing the work, we don’t need the judgment. You can turn that mirror inwards, you may not like what you see. 

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#MeToo

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2017 by tivaniam

I recently shared a #MeToo post on my Facebook profile, because obviously, #MeToo.

For those who aren’t aware, the recent #MeToo social media campaign invited women from across the world to use the hashtag as a way to increase the scope of visibility of those who’ve experienced sexual harassment; from your everyday woman, to celebrities, to politicians. This only serves to highlight the prominence of what is endured silently. And now, women are choosing to banish the shame and fear, and speak out.

This has absolutely nothing to do with victimisation or creating propaganda or more divisiveness. This is about creating awareness and highlighting the change that needs to happen. This is about treating the cause with the reverence it deserves.

I’ve been sexually harassed more times than I can count over the years from men who chose to contact me, unsolicited and uninvited, commenting on everything from my legs; to my ass; to my hair; to my breasts; bartering first, then more insistently explaining why I need to have sex with them. This has not gotten better as I’ve gotten older – it’s become worse.

Today, I received a few of these messages on my public business Facebook page, of which two stood out. Man #1 commented on my legs saying he simply loved the fact that I “showed them off”. When his comment received no response, he messaged me back to say that “I’ve disrespected him by ignoring him”. Man #2 sent me a message saying “Hi honey, I want to get to know you because I like you and you are sexy and I am lonely”. I didn’t respond so he publicly posted his displeasure on my wall: “fucking moron bitch, you are an asshole”.

So this is the thing. It’s easy to harass and abuse power, exert control and dominance or physically intimidate women into silence about these things. I know that I’ve been very afraid to speak about my incidents over the years because a lot of these men were physically overwhelming and scary. Now with social media, virtual harassment is the common practice but not less scary. The bottom line is, hurt people hurt people and it’s about time we get to the real issues, of what’s behind the abuse – pain and fear – and start addressing these social evils that keep us all as sick as our secrets.

The psychology and sociology of these patterns of behaviour need to be looked at, individually first, because from there it has a ripple effect on the collective humanity. We cannot possibly move forward and make the shifts we need consciously if we see ourselves as separate from each other. To those men who choose to dishonour women: understand that by such behaviour, you prevent yourself from levelling up and you perpetuate these vicious cycles onto the next generation and the next generation. Your actions demonstrate your internal inefficiencies and that holds us back from progressing, if it’s left festering in filth.

Immediately, we can start to do better. This starts with being aware.

‘No’ means no.

‘No’ does not mean ‘try harder’.

Single does not mean available.

How a woman dresses is not an invitation for you to pursue her.

Respect boundaries.

Watch your language. There is a fine line between a compliment and sexual objectification or obscenity. 

Hear us. See us. Pay attention.

#MeToo

 

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.

The Dreaded ‘F’ Word

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on July 2, 2014 by tivaniam

Fear.

Not the kind that is inspired by the likes of Freddie Kruger. It is the type that is debilitating, paralysing and stunting growth and development. We are raised in a society that propagates an almost nefarious message throughout our formative years of why we should not do certain things, why it is dangerous to take a risk. Fear in the context of self-preservation, has its place. Fear that prevents you from acting in order to live your best life is one where your freedom is forfeited.

Two weeks ago I made a decision to resign from a stable job that provided me with a decent salary. I have no back-up plan. Whether this is stupid or brave is a debatable thing based on an individual perception, however my decision was based exclusively on the fact that I have a higher calling and a purpose that needs to be fulfilled. My purpose is to be happy and nothing is going to derail me from that ultimate goal.

A wise person told me today that people tend to die at the age of 21 and get buried at 70. Do I want to live an existential life with regrets later on? No. Do you?

Fear has become a safety net for people to stay in bad relationships, jobs, cities or even from BEING. To live a life without risk means that you become nothing. You avoid pain perhaps but neither can you grow or evolve. For years I climbed the imaginary walls in my mind, trying to escape. I can say with conviction that, now, I am finally free. I am versed in a new lingo. I pride myself on my F words but FEAR has no place in there.

 

What’s In A Name?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 9, 2014 by tivaniam

These are the names I have been called:

Black bitch

Idiot

Worthless piece of shit

Ugly

Giraffe

Pink Panther

Doll

Baby

Love

Beauty

Angel

MILF

Gorgeous

Lady

Boss

Fraud

Insensitive

Aggressive

Mean

Nasty

Selfish

Inconsistent

Unappreciative

Kind

Mum

Loving

Friend

Slut

Attention seeker

Inspiration

Maverick

Intelligent

Stupid

Damaged

Crazy

Irresponsible

Funny

Cool

Trendy

Talented

Question is, what do I answer to?

When you are stripped bare, metaphorically speaking, every hideous angle exposed, you can do one of two things: die or change.

I am a kaleidoscopic mess, as incongruent as night and day.

But, I am now defining myself.

Resolutions

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 8, 2013 by tivaniam
A family christmas tree.

A family christmas tree. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My father was the kind of man who never needed a reason to have a party. He loved entertaining people and our home was always filled with family and friends. Christmas especially, was such a joyous occasion. Although we weren’t Christians, the feeling of love and a sense of family harmony gave us a reason to celebrate as enthusiastically. As a child, I remember waking up early on Christmas morning rushing to the Christmas tree, dizzy with excitement and anticipation of what I would find underneath. My father would always be seated in a specific chair in our dining room, watching my mother laboriously prepare the big lunch we were accustomed to having. All the while, Boney M could be heard bellowing from the radio, singing the Christmas carols I have come to hate since my father’s death. Those happy memories have been relegated to the background of my mind, where only sadness now resides.Since my father’s death, Christmas has taken on a new meaning. Although the ebb and flow of life made it easier to deal with the grief, the silence in our home became too deafening. Visits from family and friends fizzled and pretty soon it was apparent that life as we knew it would never be the same. This past Christmas was celebrated quietly, with even fewer family members and far less presents or excitement of any kind. It became clear to me then, as I sat with my small family having a quiet lunch, that this was the time to create new memories and not hold onto the memories left in the wake of my father’s death. It is time for a new dawn.

So, as I ushered in the New Year, I made a promise to myself that my resolution would be life changing and sustainable. Far from the resolutions of years gone by, this year would be different and not superficial. I resolved that this would be a year of selfishness, where my focus and attention got spent on me and those that deserve my love and loyalty. Through the years of trying to please everyone whilst holding onto the legacy left by my father, I have found that I have lost myself along the way and am constantly disappointed when people treat me differently despite the love and loyalty I bestow onto them. 2012 was a year of many revelations and some of them weren’t pleasant but throughout it all, I discovered my own strength and the endurance I possess to deal with sadness and loss. 2013 will undoubtedly be a year of self-discovery as I always strive to do better and be better. This time however, I will be much kinder to myself, lose all expectations from friends or family who profess to be there and just aren’t, and depend solely on myself for my own happiness. Memories will be made from scratch with only those who truly love and value me and mine in their lives.

Here’s to a glorious year filled with new happy memories and a lifetime of inner peace.

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