It only matters if it’s real

Girl sitting on deck with head on knees
Girl sitting on deck with head on knees

Recently I’ve taken a bit of a break, it’s quite ironic really creating a sanctuary for women to nurture and provide women with a safe place for deep rest… while running myself into the ground! Ooops.

Point taken and I have set aside 6 days with nobody around, to do a detox which for me at this time in my life is the most self nurturing thing I can do to get back on track with my health. After all, it’s this goal that set the wheels in motion for BSFW in the first place.

Warm sun, work silence, no people, the hum of life … heaven on earth

Freedom to do nothing… so aside from a bit of work here and there and drinking disgusting glasses of apple cider vinegar and baking soda, I decided to read Oprahs autobiography.

When I first picked it up, I must admit I thought she had written it and I was super excited to glean some amazing insights into what makes such a fantastic woman rock n roll. And then as I read way too many petty insights from small minded people around her, I started to relate to the lack of control we have on how people perceive us.

I have learnt over the years that the way somebody perceives me is 100% about them, not about me. I can only do the best I can with what I know at the time, and never expect to get it right for anybody else but me. And most excruciatingly the times when I think I’ve got it totally wrong I often get it right in the long run… because it’s only through adversity and challenges that we grow.

It’s much easier said than done to will adversity into our lives or even accept it when we don’t will it. So often I have berated myself for getting into a situation that I abhor, so of course I must have taken the wrong turn along the way. I then spent so much energy hating myself that it took me quite some time to realize whatever happens is perfect it’s the way I deal with it that reflects the person who I am at that moment and shows me glimpses of what I can hope to be.

So none of what I have written here even matters if I don’t put something of myself into it as nothing matters if it isn’t real … and it’s only real if it’s from our heart.

So I feel compelled to talk about the mass amount of self loathing I projected onto a 25 yo Zoe after getting married to a man who felt powerless enough inside to wield himself physically over me when I became ‘His Wife’ which somehow in his mind meant I became ‘His Property’.

For those of you who know me personally, you will know I am a very strong willed independent woman, so how this situation even came about I wasn’t aware of at the time. I simply set the wheels in motion and decided to ignore anything but my need to feel like I belonged to somebody and they to me.

I hadn’t given the institution of marriage a lot of thought except to assume that it’s something I would do, so I may as well do it now and ‘make it work’ as my parents had told me I should. After all in their eyes I had God to help me … don’t even get me started on that line of thinking!

So after about 3 months of dating somebody I had known for years as a distant friend, we decided to get married and after 6 months we were married.

And the wedding was super cool! It didn’t cost a lot, I used my creativity and love of a good party to organize a fantastic day and night… and given I was working in the alcohol industry at the time and was quite a prominent character in the club and hotel scene, I managed to get the wedding sponsored by a leading Vodka brand!!! Even now I smile at that.

Unfortunately that’s where the frivolities ended.

From here a time of complete darkness ascended over me as I tried to ‘make it work’ with somebody who didn’t have the tools to handle such an independent, strong willed and quite often an aggressive pain in the butt ruled by ego.

As to, I didn’t have the tools to handle a man who tried to render me powerless by emotional and physical violence, as well as tears, heartache and the longing for things to be perfect.

After 9 months of withdrawing from my friends, constant dramas, public humiliation and feeling my life was threatened not to mention my soul retracting to a place so deep within me it was hardly recognizable… and then I left.

I stayed with my girl friends parents otherwise I knew he would come looking for me. The only thing that really protected me was that I knew he hated looking bad in front of ‘parents’ whoevers they were.

I was proud of myself that I left. I know too many women stay in these situations. I went to counseling wondering how I could have ever gotten myself into that situation. And I reflected a lot on what I did wrong.

Which was nothing!

At the time I hated myself. I had let myself down. I had let everybody down. I had shown my weaknesses and I was distraught. I also felt guilty that I had drawn another human being into my life who wasn’t right for me and visa versa to the point it could get so bad so quickly. Deep down I knew I got married not out of love, but out of dishonesty to myself about what I wanted from life. It was the only time I had tried to make myself ‘fit’ and I was never going to do that again!
And so I learned a LOT about myself in a short amount of time.
I learnt I was powerful but didn’t need to overpower somebody if I loved them.
I learnt that deep within me underneath all the bravado and fun I was lonely and wanted to belong. I was tired of trying to be perfect and get life ‘right’ on my own … and I had no idea what getting life right even was at the time.

Learning that life was not about combining two incomes to get ahead quicker was quite ridiculous! So simple yet so profound. Getting life right
I now know we can only do my getting things ‘wrong’. And they’re not wrong they are perfect for what we need to grow. At the time they hurt like hell.

I remember one day my dad coming over unannounced which he hadn’t done for quite some time. My husband had gone to cricket for the day after a night of hell. Plates full of food thrown at my head, a big size 12 foot through the door, cupboard doors torn off … even now 12 years later as I write this my breath quickens as my heart beats faster just at the memory.

I sat quietly whimpering on the couch trying not to make a noise or move so dad didn’t know I was home. I could never show him my shame. I had to fix this myself.
I thought I was at the lowest point … but there was more to come.

Somehow after this I became detached as if I was watching my life without being in it. Then one day a friend invited me to the VIP tent of the beach volleyball as she knew I really really wanted to get into sports marketing and it would be great to network myself.

We had a great day which turned into dinner with the mens beach volleyball team … don’t mind if I do… and the drinks at a busy local Hotel. Just as I was getting a pain in the pit of my stomach knowing I would have to go home soon to face the music, my 6ft 4 husband walks through the door, spots me and gives me the death stare. I quickly said my goodbyes and left taking him with me before he could make a scene.

This was not an unusual state of affairs. I had learned that leaving was much easier.

As it happened this time he had been trawling the streets looking for me as I had left my phone at home I think, or hadn’t heard it ringing. By the time he found me he was livid.

Just outside the doors of this ridiculously busy Hotel where I knew quite a lot of people, he started shouting at me and bearing down on me with his physical presence. I left my body again and watched him tell a girlfriend to go away while I speak to ‘my wife’ as she slunk away shocked at her treatment… I braced myself for mine. We left for the car and he drove us home thumping on the steering wheel, shouting, swerving, speeding up, slowing down. His driving was as erratic and menacing as his mood.

We got home. I was silent the whole way. This was it. I could take no more.
In a steely calm voice I told him to call his mum and tell her he was coming to stay. I was monotone, my eyes were steel and he knew I meant it. He started balling and balling. I felt sorry for him. I didn’t hate him. I felt nothing. I just wanted him out.

He left.

Then when he said he was coming back, I left.

He was a mess, I was hard as ice.
His mum blamed me.
I didn’t blame her … that’s the truth easiest for her to bare as a mother.

Slowly the pain diminished and after a couple of months I felt alive again.
I was kind of seeing a guy and then I met the man I was later to move in with for 4 years.

This relationship also ended in pain of a totally different type and that time I was a mess.

Since then for the majority of 6 years I have been single.

I must admit I feel sad and lonely and a lot of loss. But I also feel thankful.
So thankful that I am not in either of those relationships where I had to walk away from myself to be there. I forgot how to be present.

The last 6 years I have met a totally different Zoe. I’m thankful to know myself more and that I have had the freedom to grow.

Ultimately I would love to be in a relationship, but only with the right man. I am hoping I will know who that is when I meet him, and that he is available.

In the meantime above all I know that if it weren’t for these experiences and the separation from these experiences that I wouldn’t be here in Bali embarking on a new life and new business and helping to be a positive influence in women’s lives.

And so I am thankful for the empathy and love I feel for the women I meet and connect with in my life. All with different stories but with glimpses of similar struggles.

For those ladies in amazing relationships I see only greatness in the men who allow them to be powerful within themselves as wives, mothers, friends, daughters, people. And I know there is the struggle of 2 lives working together simultaneously to be the best they can.

All of our lives and how we think about them are real. How others think about them is only a reflection of what is real for them inside themselves.

Much love, Zoë, xxxx