No one ever explains how it’s really going to feel. How it’s really going to affect you. How it’s going to tear your insides apart. How surreal it’s going to feel. How heavy it is on your chest that you can’t catch your breath. But when it happens, you know. And no one else knows unless they have walked that same path.
On 7 December 2018, I lost my husband. And our little girl, who is 3 and a half years old at the time, lost her daddy. Our world was turned upside down and it felt like I just couldn’t breathe. How would I raise Quinn on my own? How will I get up again tomorrow? How will we come home every day to an empty house? How? Why? WHY???
It’s a cool Saturday morning in Hillcrest. I make myself a cup of coffee and climb back into bed, feeling lazy. I give in to the urge to contact Tracey. I can’t help myself. She’s become my drug of choice. My entire body tingles with anticipation. I crave the intoxication of her presence, her touch, her lips on mine. I love the flirty banter when we speak, so I give in and phone her. As usual, we can’t stop chatting. Excitement buzzes through the phone connection. I’m high on the thrill. I’m laughing on the phone when I hear the front door open.
Shit, it’s Brad. I freeze. My heart beats wildly. My mind betrays me and blanks. I put on a smile, while a thread of fear twirls in my gut. I turn off the phone knowing that Tracey has heard him.
On the surface I am your traditional bride to be planning my wedding – I am choosing my dress, my husband-to-be’s ring – getting all the butterflies and counting down the days until THE day that I say I Do and marry the love of my life, my best friend, my soulmate.
There will be no flowers. No cake. No guest list and my dress has to adhere to a strict dress code.
The reason for this is that my fiancé is 15 000 km away, in prison. In the United States of America and him and I have been on this journey for the last 4 years.
I barely made it past the second year of marriage before going through the “getting caught (crossdressing) and promising to abstain” routine.
Seven years later and nothing but the carcass of life remained, the lights were on but nobody home. The last thought before (finally) succumbing to sleep usually entailed a familiar prayer: To be spared the agony of awakening, only to be forced to breathe through another day of a dull, dreary and meaningless existence.
It may be incomprehensible for most but dressing up lies at the core of a person like me’s psyche. Without the outlet expression provides, one tends to whither away. I was “morbidly depressed” but too much of a coward to do anything about it.
The message was clear: Either grow courage (yes, kill yourself) or re-negotiate. It was tough, but I managed to do a bit of both: I grew the courage to re-negotiate. It got worse, the fall-out more nuclear than anticipated in the worst of nightmares. But, somehow my wife had to learn to hold the “moral high ground” over your crossdressing husband does not guarantee victory in every argument. BOTH parties in a relationship have the right to some measure of happiness. “Happy wife, Happy life” is the single biggest lie sold to men (and some women for that matter) everywhere. If it doesn’t read “Happy spouse, Happy house” you’re headed for trouble.
I grew up believing that there are honour and dignity in suffering in silence and in covering certain traumas to protect those that you love. But after spending 21 days at a mental health facility I don’t know how much of this narrative I still believe. I also don’t know if I have the capacity to change it, but through sharing my story and lending my voice to the world I hope to, at the very least, inspire women to find their most authentic voices, and most importantly, when they do find it to not be afraid of it in spite of the cracks and “imperfection” there.
Having lost everything that I held dear to my heart – my relationship, my family, my home, my comfort, my finances, my health, my dignity, my values, my mind – my need for external validation and love has completely diminished and as a result I don’t care much about being judged. I have come to learn that “people’s perceptions of me are a reflection of them, and my reaction to them is an awareness of me”. I’ve had to be deeply hurt by people whom I loved, and I have hurt them in return to get to the place I am in now – an awareness of self, a recognition, and appreciation of the gifts that God has planted on the inside of me and an acceptance of everything that I’ve had to endure that continues to mould me into the woman I was called to be.
I’m no expert, not on life or work or being a woman or being a mother, but what I do know, is that sometimes we all lie…
When people ask us “how are you?”, almost always the answer is “Great thanks, or good thanks, or amazing, or awesome”. When was the last time that someone said “It’s not going well. I’m not coping. I don’t know what to do. I’m sad. I’m broken. I’m in trouble. I need help. I need to talk”? In my case, I can’t remember the last time someone said that to me or I to them. (Insert that little “IDK” emoji here). I remember a joke doing the rounds a few years ago, it stated that when people ask how you’re doing, don’t tell them, they don’t really want to know. But guess what, if you’re struggling with something, and I can possibly help, I DO want to know. And I’d like to think that someone will listen to me when I need to talk or vent or ask for advice or guidance.
Why are we so afraid to open up and ask for help? Why are we so scared of showing who we really are and what we’re going through? Why are we so afraid of showing our humanity? I fully understand not wanting to confide in strangers, but what about friends, or family, or those soulmate people that the internet is so full of? Is it a shame? Is it not wanting to show weakness? Is it not wanting people to truly know us? Is it not wanting people to truly see us? We all need to talk and be talked to.
Met die August wind waai ek by ons apteek in. Miskien meer ‘n aptekie… So met die inwaai neem ek waar dat ek alleen in die apteek is. Geen apteker of assistent nie… en geen ander siekes nie.
Wie daar wel is, is Dr Victor en “Wie se kind is die?”
My voete trap sommer so hier vir jou en hier vir my… en ek lang arm net daar verby die baba produkte. Ek maak n buiging voor die cutex en gooi ‘n Two Step daar by “vir my sal jy moet hok!” By die weggooidoeke en “That Man” doen my heupe so n dubbel swaai.