Finding Myself

Society & Culture | By Christine Ndoro, Fine Artist | 31 October 2014

I am at a stage in my life when I need more meaning. The statement that my life has to be worth more than this is consistently in my head. Over the past few days my faith was considerably shaken. I keep repeating the prayer for the Almighty to grant me the strength not to judge, because a Christian man who preaches to me in the office shook it.

I learnt a long time ago that self-righteousness is a person’s worst enemy. You want the world to see itself as you see it yet you never stop to realise it is falling because of the way you treat it. Self-righteousness gives one squinted vision. You look down at the world from the tip of your nose. You narrow your perception of the world to the area that your vision covers around your nose.

It has been a very challenging time for me at work lately, with insults hurled at me that had me questioning myself worth. I refuse to be held down. I am too precious to let the opinion of a little man shake the foundation of my soul. This little man is deprived of motherly love. He hates women and yet he married one whom he humiliates at every opportunity – as he does every other woman; me included. First I was forgiving and insisted that it was not his fault.

I continue to forgive him because in his shallow world, he is doing the only thing he knows best - becoming a giant through the belittlement of others. I cannot change him and I have decided to move on. In one week he has brought me more humiliation and anger than a previous abusive marriage. I am also to blame. I overlooked the little things until they developed into bigger things. I should have put my foot down from the first insult. I am good at what I do. Working for this man made me question my ability.

Today I realised that what I should be questioning is why I accepted such behaviour to begin with. I should question why I absorbed his insults. It is not enough of an excuse for me to say because he owes me three months salary.

My life and self-dignity are worth more than the three months minimum salary he should be giving me. In essence, if a man gets off on making women feel small then there is more man in me than in him. A true man honours his mother, sister, wife, aunty and daughter. A true man protects the women in his life. He should never be the force against whom they
should fight.

It has been almost half a year since I mastered the courage to walk away from this little man and it is bliss. I was angry. To add insult to injury, the little man proposed that he half my already meagre salary and that I work on a commission basis. He asked me to think about it over a couple of days’ holiday period. My heart said no. My spirit said no. My everything said no. My life was worth so much more than what he presented on the platter. True, I went through the cycles of mourning. I mourned my time, I moaned my effort and I grieved over all the ripple effects that the little man’s decisions had caused. He was cruel. Because of him, I went through the most humiliating eviction from our home. I had been unable to honour my contribution to the household. As my landlady lectured and shouted, it alluded to a cartoon character being hit over the head repeatedly and sinking into the ground, until it was buried. That day I cried out to my God and asked him why. I stood naked, bathing.

My body was empty. It was as if I had nothing and I amounted to nothing. I was angry. I asked my God to teach me to forgive this little man. It was a moment reminiscent of childbirth where pain becomes so intense, you flip into auto pilot. Where pain consumes you but you become removed from it because you have slipped into a pervasive crevice in your soul which prevents one from dealing with an immediate crisis.  It was not entirely the little man’s fault. I did wrong as well. I did not maintain the house as well as I could have. With my tail in between my legs, I moved back into my mother’s home. The little man had reduced me to being a child again.

Daily I prayed for help to forgive him and eventually I could think of him and all the consequences of my lack of a salary without choking. I could look back at the time I spent at home with my daughter trying to keep her from questioning why she was not at school. She knew. She knew the reason because she had been the bearer of the note instructing me not to return her to class until her fees were fully paid. I wished that I could be a mother and still reserve the blissful innocence and ignorance of my youth, where responsibility always fell on someone else. I wished that I could live in a perfect world where only I would suffer the consequences of the decisions I made. I had to let go of this toxic pain...and I did.

My mother has a saying, akava datya ariyambutsa (When you kick a frog you cause it to cross its barriers). Life is happy when you forgive because you become free. I was liberated and the right opportunity came knocking on my door that almost tripled my former salary and with it a boss who believes in the same ideals I do. Through a hostile situation, I found a part of me. Most importantly, I found gratitude.  I found gratitude for the roof over my head, for friends, family, and love. I found a job that involves a lot of work. The work is hard. I am still thankful that I have it to begin with and that my salary is received every month end. I am thankful that I have weekends to my children and myself. I am thankful that I found an important chunk of me - gratitude.