So today is the first day of my holiday.
In the house.
And I am two parts ecstatic and one part lonely.
Back in January when I suggested, then strongly hinted at, then sat down with and begged Krys that I wanted, nay, needed a holiday, I didn’t think I’d be sitting here missing them both so badly.
See, I have this problem with not wanting to put people out, and putting people I love ahead of my own needs. To change Shakespeare a little bit,
“Some are born nurturers, some achieve nurturing, and some have nurturing thrust upon them”
I have always seen myself as the last bit. being a first born, especially in Zambia, you are expected to be a nurturer. Especially if you are the first born daughter. You are expected to care for your siblings; expected to care for guests; expected to take up the helm in the home when mum is not around, so that everything ticks over like clockwork.I can tell you many, many stories of growing up having to take this role up, but I’ll spare you that.
But for a long time, I felt that I was not a born nurturer because of this. I thought it was my upbringing and the rules of Tonga tradition and Zambian society that made me put everyone else’s needs ahead of my own. And I felt too that if I didn’t put other people’s needs ahead of my own, I was somehow failing in some duty.
When I was in college, in Zambia, I had an amazing accountancy lecturer who was very funny and had a very dry sense of humour. One thing he said in class one day, apropos of nothing was,
“Zambian women, you need to start standing up for yourselves instead of just being angry inside. Remember that a woman who agrees to everything is always pregnant.”
I was shocked, but it stayed with me in relation to discounting my own needs. granted he probably was kidding about some stupid thing, but it brought home to me how much I agreed to things, to situations and circumstances, with a brave face and a smile when I really didn’t want to. I rarely if ever made decisions for myself because it would be branded as selfish, and that’s a bad bad way for society to bring women up.
Becoming a parent compounds this. If you never learnt to take care of your own needs, then you are well and truly fucked. (pardon my klutchian) because it’s one gig where your needs most definitely are not going to be coming first. But that road only leads to burnout.
So at the start of the year, I was feeling very down. I had a very hard 2013 and had to grow up very very fast. Therapy helped, and is still helping and I am grateful every day that it’s mandatory for my studies or I might never have had the courage to go myself.
But one of the things I was dealing with and fighting with last year in therapy is the ability to articulate my needs. Why would I just do as I am asked and then keep a seething bowl of rage inside that threatens to consume me at times? Why would I assume that I am always in the wrong when I think of myself first? Why I feel guilty when I am only protecting myself and my sanity by thinking of me.
It’s almost at times like my self-preservation has been stripped away in some way and I feel bad if I have to say no without a reason. Strange, and I hope some of the above is making sense. It’s been a hard one to grapple with myself so I can understand if you’re reading this going what on earth is she on about. But those who grapple with the same will hopefully know what I am talking about…I hope!
Anyhoo, becoming a mother made it worse. I couldn’t put myself first at any stage. I would try to balance working late with taking care of Roz. Would juggle Krys working long hours at work with my being a single parent while he did that, and checking emails and answering work queries at home and writing essays and going to therapy and going to group therapy and….Aargh!
And I was seriously getting burnt out.
And Krys could see this.
So when he suggested at the start of the year that maybe I needed some time alone, on my own. I was all,
“yes, yes, I would love that!”
And he said he could take Roz to Poland to see his parents while I had some much deserved me time.
Two months went by and there was no talk of it.
I hinted about when did he think he would go to Poland with Roz and he said maybe over the summer or something.
May came and Roz and I went to Zambia and still no tickets booked for Poland. When we came back, Krys said it was the best two weeks of his life. He got to sleep in, and be a grown up and clear his head and boy was I jealous. So I asked when was I getting the same and he said yeah, he should probably look into that. And silence.
I spoke about it in therapy and my therapist asked me one question,
“What is stopping you from just telling Krys he needs to but a ticket?”
And it took a lot of looking inwards. What would it be saying about me to be longing for time off away from my child? What would it be like to see Krys go “oh, you don’t want us around that much? gee, thanks!” To feel I had hurt the people I love by just wanting some space. But that was all phantasy that I had to confront. I promise I will write more tomorrow on phantasies.
So anyway, three weeks ago I sat down with Krys and said very clearly,
“I need a break from you guys. I will go insane if I don’t have even one whole night away from you both and other people.”
The end result was that he booked the tickets and they flew out to Poland Thursday afternoon for a week. I’ve taken the same period off work and am at present alone at home on my own for the first time in over five years!
It’s utter bliss because I can finally hear the voices in my head clearly again.
The house is clean, all the dishes are washed and I have time to myself that I asked for.
I am very proud of myself.