Archive for Women

Who Are You…Before The World Taught You Who To Be?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2018 by tivaniam

There is a fundamental need that we possess, which we aren’t talking about. It’s the need to tell the truth. Our individual truth. The voice we try to suppress and drown out.

This past week, two celebrities committed suicide within days of each other, shocking their friends and families, all of whom assumed that these people were happy. When you’re living a life of pretence, you become the greatest actor. Life imitates art.

In this era of social media dominance, we are consumed with comparing our “behind the scenes” to someone else’s “highlight reel”.  We have lost perspective and forget that people are putting forward the very best versions of themselves, which can often be nothing more than a facade. We spend so much of time pretending to have perfect lives externally, when the internal reality paints a very different picture.

The desire to fit in is so consuming that people are choosing to end their lives, literally, because of the suppression of their truths. We fake the smiles and happiness. We post stuff on Instagram and Facebook pretending to try and bridge the gap between who we are, and how we want other people to perceive us. We’ve become masters at meeting other peoples’ expectations.

All of this pretending is nothing more than lying. Lying to please others. And it’s making us sick physically and emotionally. We’re a society that is anxious, depressed, addicted and suffering. We’ve become so obsessed with fitting into a societal norm that teaches us to do more, to have more, to want more…and all it seems to be doing is making us more and more miserable.

So, who are you, before the world taught you who to be? Do you even know what that looks like? What freedom tastes like? What happiness feels like?

Prior to my failed suicide attempt four years ago, I was never able to answer these questions. All I wanted to do was fit in, be accepted and not judged. I moulded myself into the woman everyone else wanted me to be. I never listened to my own internal voice and truth and I negated my desires and dreams until I was prepared to end my life for it. Surviving my suicide attempt was the wake-up call I needed. I promised myself then, that I would never ever sacrifice my life in the pursuit of making others happy, or conforming to some stupid prescribed way of being that never encompassed my personal truth. I wanted to figure out who I am for myself, and what I was here to bring. And I got the answer. I discovered my voice and purpose and I was never silenced again. That is true authentic power. Had I fulfilled that intention to kill myself, this world would be robbed of my voice, my words and the gifts that I am here to bring; teaching others about hope and redemption. I will never again give anyone the power to dictate how I should be, how I should live or who I should love.

When you step into the light of who you truly are, you find real freedom and happiness that is authentic which can never be taken away. When will you understand how precious life is? When you’re on your deathbed riddled with regrets? Think about it.

Make today the day. Start now. Choose you.

 

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Banishing Silence: Stepping Into Truth

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2018 by tivaniam

At the age of 19, I was raped.

For 17 years, I kept it a secret, only telling a select few, until last year when I decided to write about it in my autobiography. The details of the incident are discussed in my book, but to me are inconsequential. The bigger issue for me is why I remained silent. Why women continue to remain silent.

Over the years, I’ve experienced sexual harassment verbally, physically and digitally and only recently elected to openly discuss these issues. Why? Because, for years, I was filled with shame, guilt, embarrassment, fear of judgment and ridicule and more importantly, the belief that I would be considered “less than” by any man who wanted to be with me.

It’s a generational pathology to simply do what was always done. And for decades women have been taught to smile and be silent out of fear of judgment and shame. We live in a society that teaches women to shrink, and to be ashamed of telling the truth. But for me, the moment anyone invalidates someone else’s truth, they dehumanise them. I had to learn, that when people start the rumours, when they judge, when they re-tell my story disparagingly, when they mock or ridicule or try to shame me, it’s never ever about me.

Writing has become my solitary place where I’m paying the most attention. It’s a place where my heart is wide open and I am the purest version of myself. It’s also where I am told to be silent, because truth is very inconvenient. I’ve always known that my silence never served me, and since beginning this journey of  truth telling, I accepted my life is the amalgam of brutal and beautiful and I needed to own that, unapologetically, if I was to make any difference in this world.

As women, we are taught that certain things are “unbecoming of a girl” and when we cross the line, there is a hefty price to pay. We weren’t allowed to speak about contentious issues like rape, abuse or sexual harassment, and we couldn’t be smart and draw attention to our intellect.

But silence either makes us too tender or too tough. This metastasizes into either ass-kissing and people pleasing, or conversely, aggression and anger. We become as sick as our secrets.

Fear of judgment, shame and guilt, is a nefarious act that holds us captive from speaking out. This tyranny of impoverished thinking has kept us prisoners in our own minds. We don’t speak out, because we want to be “normal” and accepted but we end up with the truth seeping out sideways through depression or addiction. We need to open our mouths more often to let the truth exist outside rather than allowing our bodies, minds and souls to rot by keeping it inside.

Offering my experience to the world was a form of truth-telling in a way that changed the trajectory of my life. My silence gave other people the power to decide my worth and plan my life for me. When you’re living in the echo chamber of your own mind, you cannot have discernment. When I chose to speak my truth, I did so for posterity’s sake, to change belief systems and give my daughter and the generations to come permission to do the same. No one will determine my story, only I will. My voice will change the world. If it makes you uncomfortable then it’s working. Truth sounds a lot like hate, for those who hate the truth.

In an era that promotes universal facades and pretence, telling the truth starts a revolution.

Insurgent women, it’s time to rise up. Be less concerned with judgment and more concerned with redemption. The time is up for remaining silent.

A Return to Love

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2017 by tivaniam

The dominant theme of my life for this year was Love. Love within and without.

It began in February when my soul merged with another. To use the word merge is mild in itself. It was a combustion; a fire so powerful that I couldn’t come out unscathed. It was the stuff dreams were made of, except this was so far ahead of my own dreams that I battled to keep up. I melted into him, his arms were home. He was my doorway to another world. It was the most intense spiritual connection that made me believe in all of the things I’ve only ever read about. For the first time in my life, I learnt the TRUE meaning of love and it made every other interaction pale in comparison.

Notwithstanding that connection, we were never in a relationship. We hardly saw each other. It was unorthodox and unconventional by societal standards, but it was real and true for me. It taught me about the value of truth, where I got to decide the truth about things for myself and not adopt someone else’s biased view. This love taught me patience, something I’ve always lacked. It taught me about the value of time and how precious one hour can be. It taught me about loving someone unconditionally, through their light and their darkness. It taught me about the expansiveness of my own heart. It taught me that “forgiveness” is love’s other name. It taught me that I am so much braver than I ever imagined myself to be. It taught me how to be more awake, more conscious, and more present as the universe gave us such big synchronicities that were more than simply romantic; it was the presence of a divine spark. It taught me about how love is a mirror. He made me face my deepest and darkest fears of insecurity and inadequacy. It taught me how to be my essence of peace and it revealed to me when I was deficient. This spiritual love changed my life forever and changed the very foundations of everything I’ve known to be true and real. It pushed the boundaries of convention and it made me a true believer of magic and divinity.

Through all this beauty, came the proverbial white elephant. And suddenly I had to face certain realities. It wasn’t about giving up; it was actually about REFUSING to give up on me. You see, sometimes a woman has to make a choice to say goodbye to what is even the best thing in her life, because it just doesn’t serve her.  The truth is often painfully clear and goodbye is necessary to remain in the light. It’s the difference between taking the short view, or the long view. There is a chasm wide gulf between co-dependence and love and my very role as a mother is teaching my kids what love truly looks like. And sometimes love is leaving what you think you need.

Each of us has inherent strengths. Mine is listening to my own truth and following the directions, even what that voice of truth sounds terrifying as fuck. My dream was to teach women that strength, women who woke up and found themselves in the middle of their own nightmare. I am here to teach women, through my truth, how to not sit inside that nightmare. That means I have to ACTUALLY live my truth. And my truth has always been about what works and doesn’t work for me and me alone.

I am showing up daily and working to remain strong and not give up even when the wind pries with stiff fingers to rip apart my very foundation. I try and bravely put one foot in front of the other in an effort to stay in the light, because it’s so easy to get back into the dark. The dark is a safe space for someone like me, it’s familiar and I can abdicate all responsibility. But I’ve worked too fucking hard to be that small. I have to do whatever it takes to stay in the light. This means saving myself and returning to love, in order to show others how it’s done.

I’ve believed that in order to find your life, you need to lose it. I have felt like I lost my life again. My hopes, dreams and wishes. But with it gone, I know my life is emerging. Exactly how it’s meant to. That is the way of the Phoenix, rising higher and higher each time, determined to save the only life I could save. Mine.

It is still a love story. Love always wins. It just comes in different shades. My wish for every one of you is that you get to experience this kind of love, even once, because it will teach you how to live. If the invitation comes, take it with arms wide open.

I am grateful for it and grateful for now returning back to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. 

Why The “You Complete Me” Mentality Is A Load Of Shit

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2017 by tivaniam

LOVE is a disease, in and of itself, of which, I am the greatest sufferer. I hold it in reverence; and watch as it turns me from a rational woman, into a manic, fevered-face, high-pitched and deranged shadow of my former self. I am an over-the-top romantic and adore grand displays of affection and attention. A man saying “you complete me” would be met with a theatrical ‘slow-fainting’ display, complete with requisite ugly cry (yes, I’ve watched Jerry Maguire more times than I can count).

But, let’s be real. The stuff movies are made of, aren’t real life and the messages are often very dangerous. The inference that we need another to feel complete is the reason so many of us, women especially, keep yearning and searching for that big love and often times, never find it. Not with that mentality anyway. The universe taught me this lesson early on, but I chose to give it the “up yours” sign and instead became a chameleon in order to make the man happy:

Him: “What’s your favourite food?”

Me: “I don’t know…what’s YOUR favourite food?”

Him: “Probably sushi”

Me: “Oh My God! ME too!”

PS. I HATE sushi.

Enough said. I hang my head in shame.

The universe in Her infinite wisdom, made the lessons harder and harder, until finally, I was sick of my own shit and said, “fuck this, I need to be my own hero and complete myself”, which is the journey I’ve been on for the last 14 months.

So this is the problem with movies like Jerry Maguire; it’s all fun and games and dancing in the dark until we try and apply it to real life and the men run away. Fast. It sets the narrative for a love that isn’t real and cannot be sustained and leads to much disappointment.

I am indefatigable when it comes to love. I peel myself back, layer by layer, for the whole world to see. And I love being that way – gloriously lavish in the face of love.

But, the difference is, notwithstanding my expansive heart, I will never again be a man’s sinner, saint or scapegoat in the quest to make him complete me or vice versa. That is way too much of pressure on him and me. The completeness is an internal job. And it’s a deeply personal job, untainted by the pressures of what society thinks I should be. I will be doing the world an injustice if I choose to fade away and live in the shadows of what any man needs me to be, in order to love me. I will be negating my truth if I stay quiet about who I am. I will die a slow death if I succumb to any labels others place on me, as a result of their personal fight with their own significance. I cannot own any of that anymore. I speak loudly, I cannot be unseen. I leave a lasting impression.  I am unapologetic about it.

Being complete all by myself means that I can love without expectation, demand or fear. So when love came knocking at my door, magic was created because I am me, fully, and he is him, fully.

I am versed in a new lingo. It’s no longer, “you complete me” but rather “I see me, in you”. The point being, I see ME first. And that for me is the REAL love story here. It will never ever end.

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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

 

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.

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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.

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