Posted in Culture, Motherhood, Relationships

GUILT!!!

I have come to believe caring for myself is not self indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.”

– Audre Lorde

There is a certain guilt I feel when I force myself to take a break or rest up a little. As I lay down to relax, I can’t help but feel less of a woman/wife/mother because I chose to take care of myself rather than clean the house or spread the clothes. Often, I get so overwhelmed with that guilt that I end up putting a stop to my relaxation and getting up to do whatever needs to be done. Whilst trying to figure out where this guilt was coming from, I realised this is something that is embedded in our society and culture in different ways. 

Growing up, I watched my mother and the women around me do EVERYTHING in the household. Our mothers took care of everyone but themselves. Although my mother never specifically advised me to do the same in my marital home, the expectation was set. I followed in her footsteps and tried as much as I could to be a good daughter and help out in any way possible around the house. Whenever I showed any intentions to relax or have fun, a series of questions such as “have you tidied up the house?” or “have you cooked the stew?” followed. Only if I answered ‘Yes’ to these questions, was it then acceptable for me to ‘relax’. There was a constant feeling of ‘the home needs to be in perfect order before I can relax’. 

Going into my marital home, I subconsciously carried the same pressure with me. I wanted to be a superwoman – the perfect wife and mother. I wanted to do everything like the great women that came before me. So I did. I cooked. I cleaned. I took care of the baby and everything else in between. There was a sense of fulfilment and empowerment that came from looking at the spotless house, coupled with the smell of food from the kitchen that made me feel like a good wife. I had done everything on my own. My worth as a wife was very much linked to the chores I did around the house. So much so, when I couldn’t do ALL of those things, I felt I was failing in my role as a wife. I was not enough. As you can imagine, this mindset coupled with a full time job and a baby left me feeling drained with no time to myself. I was constantly tired and cranky.

…I recognise it, I am working on it, because self care isn’t selfish…”

As a human being, I painfully recognised that I needed a break to recharge; I tried to take the time out. This meant allowing my spouse to carry some of the household responsibilities. I struggled. Watching him do more around the home went against everything that I had observed or had been taught by women in the society. I questioned my ability as a wife and a mother and instead of feeling relaxed, I felt selfish and incapable. I felt guilty for taking a break. I felt guilty for not meeting the expectations that I had set for myself. 

Having acknowledged that I was trying to live up to the expectations that I had set for myself in my own marital home, I am now personally trying to unlearn this ‘superwoman’ behaviour and allow myself space and time to take care of myself without feeling guilty about it. In doing this, I have also realised that it is okay to let someone else take the reins. I am slowly learning to take a step back and not feel the need to do everything. I’m not there yet, but I recognise it, I am working on it, because self care isn’t selfish. You cannot pour from an empty cup. 

Do you feel guilt when you make time for yourself? If so, know that you’re not on your own. Do you feel the need to overcome this feeling and how do you do so?

Till next time

-A

Posted in Culture

DO BETTER NIGERIA!

ANGER. RAGE. DISGUST. HURT. PAIN. HEAVY. BETRAYAL. LET DOWN. SHAME.

These words don’t even come close to describing the turmoil in my chest right now. There is so much awareness being brought to issues that have been going on for so long ‘behind closed doors’, I’m struggling to cope. I have refrained from saying anything because I don’t feel I have the right words. Instead, I have spent the past few days sharing links, posts, tweets, campaigns, petitions etc in solidarity with our fight. However, tonight I struggled to stay quiet. 

As a black woman, I’ve always been aware of the racial injustice that we as black people face. I am not blind to it. I am lucky to not have overtly experienced it but it’s there. It’s in the way people look at me when I laugh too loud or in the way they ask me why I’m so well-spoken. It is in the way they tell me to ‘calm down’ when I am trying to speak up for myself. So, I am aware that we will be judged firstly by the colour of our skin before anything else. I am aware that the mere colour of our skin is a threat to several out there. And like so many of us, the images and videos that I have seen over the past few days have enraged me. The more information I get, the angrier I get at the systemic racism that has been put in place to keep us from changing our narratives. The more information I get, the angrier I get at myself for not being quick to realise the impact of these malicious behaviours on my people. The more information I get, the angrier I get at the people who care more about power than they care about our lives. The more information I get, the angrier I get at the people who have chosen to oppress us to make their lives easier. The point is, I AM ANGRY. WE ARE ANGRY. WE ARE TIRED. We are at war and we’re ready to stand up to our enemies. 

In standing up to injustice, we need to call out the injustice within our own communities. Recently, the rape culture in Nigeria has been all over social media. Rape happens everywhere. It’s sad but true. There are sick men everywhere*. Sick men who think the way a woman dresses, walks, speaks, where she visits etc is a reason to rape her. Sick men who force themselves on women just for being women. We know these men exist. We know these men are sick. These men sicken me. But what sickens me more than these men are the communities who have raised these men to believe that they have the right to a woman’s body without her consent. Men AND women bashing other women/girls for ‘putting themselves in situations’ that have caused them to be raped. What situation gives another person the right to violate you? I won’t get into it but when you look at the stats, it is very clear that nothing stops anyone from being raped. It could have been YOU. WE need to do better. 

Rape is one of the most terrible crimes on earth and it happens every few minutes. The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves. What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape. Go to the source and start there.

– Kurt Cobain

The pressure that is put on women in our community is ridiculous. We are blamed for everything including being abused by our male counterparts. From birth, we are groomed for the sake of our male counterparts; dress responsibly so that the boys won’t look at you, learn to cook so that you can be a good wife, educate yourself because no man wants a liability etc. YOU raise us girls to be strong, independent, educated, responsible etc. On the other hand, YOU raise irresponsible men who are unworthy of the women that YOU have raised. Men that choose to satisfy their sexual urges without a care for the impact it has on us because YOUR ACTIONS have taught them that we exist solely for their sake. And in turn, YOU are telling the strong girls that YOU have raised, that no matter what they do, what they achieve, what they wear, these men will ALWAYS come before them. I AM ASHAMED. Nigeria, we need to do better. 

I plan to do better and you should too. We need to raise men that are worthy of the women that we are raising. We need to raise men that understand our struggles as women. We need to raise men that will fight for our struggles as women. We need to raise men that will hear our cries. We need to raise RESPONSIBLE men. So, start in your homes. Give your sons responsibilities; let them make dinner, let them do the dishes. Teach them respect. Teach them that they are the only ones responsible for their actions and those actions have consequences. Hold them accountable. Teach them just like you teach your daughters. 

To my sisters who have suffered and continue to suffer from the hands of the irresponsible men in our community. The community that should fight for you has let you down. I see YOU. I hurt for YOU. I support YOU. You are worthy!

DO BETTER NIGERIA!!!

Till next time

-A

*There are sick men everywhere. Obviously it’s important to recognise that this role can be fulfilled by a woman also, however this is a minute minority and generally not the case in most occurrences. Therefore with relevance to my point, I am going to discuss said sick men.