March 26, 2015

Day 533 – Love thy family

Maybe I’m too sensitive, maybe I’m too soft and maybe this is why I can’t bear to see people being brutally killed on television.  Yes, I know its just a sitcom and no one is really dead but I still cannot bear watch it. I have never really been one for violence and never really understood how watching warfare is entertainment. I tried to understand this whilst watching Game of Thrones, I tried to appreciate how the glorification of violence is deemed both acceptable and normal.  But, for me, I have to look away every time someone is sliced or beheaded. Yes it is only blood and another dead body but I simply can’t watch it. I tend to opt for comedy shows or sitcoms where crimes are solved so for example, Criminal Minds or The Mentalist.  Here they show the crime, kidnappings or rape but then each of these crimes are solved. Yes perhaps this is unrealistic and in real life this doesn’t happen but I like happy endings. I enjoy watching something whereby the bad guys are caught and there is some form of justice because I know in the real world it doesn’t always exist.

I am all too familiar with pain, hurt and abuse. Through both my academic background and personal experiences I have been surrounded by it and listened to others first hand experiences. Personal experiences shape us, they add to our characters and in some cases they shape us or break us. Studying social work and then working with women affected by domestic violence was my first exposure to working with survivors.  Up and until then, I had worked with children, young people and the elderly but more in support worker role. I had never worked with children who had been abused or young offenders. It is one thing reading theories on child attachment and something entirely different putting it into practice. We all have a threshold of how much we can take, how much we can listen to before we are overwhelmed and want to punch a wall. But to then watch women or children being hurt or abused is something else.

I studied history so I was surrounded by warfare, war strategies, war plans, misunderstandings and assumptions.  I read accounts from soldiers, how they felt, what they say and most importantly how they felt. The psychological impact on these soldiers was far greater than the physical.  Some never really recovered from the traumas of war, the loss of loved ones, watching their friends being blown up or shot. The Vietnam War was the first televised war in America, it went on for twenty years and people back home were able to see both the brutalities and the reality of warfare. Four American presidents came and went and in the end America lost this war and Vietnam fell to communism and whilst this war was some thirty years ago, the impacts of this war can still be seen throughout the country and most importantly on the people.  The chemicals used by the American affected generations to come and babies continue to be born with deformities.  So the one and only important question after any war is, who won? Who gained from this war? America? Vietnam? The people?  For me, no one won and nothing was gained, both sides suffered a great lost.  As with any war, there was an immense human cost which is never replaced. Thus having read and watched many documentaries and movies on warfare, I chose not to watch anything depicting such violence, massacres and deaths.

Other than Game of Thrones, there are many other amazing novels and movies that show warfare and which are enjoyed by millions. The imaginative, fantasy realities for example, such as Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I stayed clear of reading any of these books but I did watch the second Lord of The Rings movie and was left unimpressed. I recently watched the second or third Hobbit and again it was rather painful. The entire movie was based on fighting this war, of course for justice and against evil and eventually evil is overcome but at a price. The entertainment aspect for me was none existed, the landscapes were beautiful but lost amongst all the violence.  I appreciate beautiful, scenic landscapes, more so now, especially travelling around however to film such movie’s in these locations, for me is rather off putting if anything.

Whilst I’m an optimist, I’m also a realist, I believe in this reality and read/watch movies about this reality rather than some fantasy. I appreciate how and why other realities are preferred to the one we live in. I understand that it is possible to appreciate a land of hobbits where trees talks and goblins exist. But again, for me, it is just not my cup of tea. Perhaps these other realities exist and maybe what we deem to be reality is not. All I know is that I don’t want to spend time reading about wizards, dragons or magical powers. They have never appealed to me and I have never felt that I would escape into such a world.

I also don’t feel the need to watch superheroes who possess some kind of superpowers and whose mission is to save the world. Sure wouldn´t it be amazing if we could fly or disappear but of course we cannot.  We don´t have super natural powers and we can´t time travel. Some of you reading this may feel I lack imagination, sure maybe to an extent I do.  I am a big believer in all things bright and beautiful but super powers isn´t one of them.  So again I opt not to watch programs like Flash or Arrows where superheroes have a mask and a cape.  Another thing, I found is there are very few superheroes who are females.  We have batman, superman, hulk and now flash and all of them are male. We have yet to see a sitcom whereby the superhero is a female. And yes, perhaps then I would feel more compelled to watch it.

I am blessed and have a superhero in my life, I think we all do and for me, it is my mum.  My mum is my superhero for many reasons, she is one of the women I know to have left everything she knew, her country, her family, her friends and to travel overseas, to a land which she was unfamiliar with, where she knew few people and did not speak the language. Madagascar was and still is for the most part, a third world country, with a tropical climate, different customs and it comprises of many Indians.  My parents arrived in England in 1980 and whilst there were other ethnic minorities, there was also a lot of racism and consequently, they along with many others, experienced many difficulties.  My mother adapted to the culture, food and weather and saw snow for the very first time. Of course she missed home, her family, her everything but she built a new life with my dad in London. I think mothers are remarkable for many reasons because they make sacrifices throughout your life for your happiness and well-being. My mum and I have had are differences and I continue to drive her crazy and she cannot understand my life choices but she is learning to accept them.  I am as stubborn and determined as her, any barrier or failure makes me more determined to achieve my goal. My mother gives me a lot of strength and reassurance when I need it.  She and my father did they best they could, they are not perfect parents or people but they never claimed to be.

My mother taught me that nothing is impossible, sure some thing’s are crazy and unheard of for an Indian woman in society but goals can be reached. My father is a pillar of strength too, always teaching us to fight for what we believe in and especially to stand for principals. My parents are quite the duo, they both had a difficult life and various problems, some of which I don´t think they ever overcame. But my parents are fighters, they never gave up, they continue to do everything for us, they bend over backwards trying to help where they can. They miss me, they miss me a lot and I know it isn´t easy for them, me being here, living my life and them, a million miles away back in London. But they love me and as my dad said today, he is not going to tell me what to do or when to come home.  He is proud of all three of us and we all managed to work in areas we love and we are all happy in our own way. I am nothing but grateful to have them as parents, for all the advice, support, love and dedication.  Being a parent is no easy job and not everyone manages it well.  My parents achieved a lot in life but both my sisters and I have achieved more and that makes them proud.

Family is important, family is the cornerstone of society and family, supposedly will always stand by you. But if that was the case then family would never leave you, they would never abandon you or leave you high and dry on the wayside.  Truthfully, just because you have family doesn´t mean you have each other’s back, it doesn´t mean that they will be there for you or that they will support you.  For those of us that have this, it is a blessing and not a given.  I feel that both my parents were left by their family.  My dad´s family live in Australia but we have no contact with them and I have no desire to talk to any of them.  It is difficult to miss something you never had.  My mum´s family continue to live in Madagascar but again it is complicated and whilst we have more of a relationship it is difficult because we have very different ideals to them.

So I would say I have very little real family, sure lots of blood relations but not many people that I would count on. I have no relationship with my grandmother, uncles or cousins on my dad´s side. I know my uncles and cousins more on my mum´s side but now the relationship has deteriorated and it is hard to mend. For me family is something more, it consists of people that know you, love you and care for you. People who we can turn to and call, these people are family and thankfully I have people like this. I have not known them for years and sure we did not grow up together and we are from different cultures but these friends, these people are my family.

I believe we all need people in our lives, to share the good and the bad with.  People who we can laugh with, drink with and get advice from. It doesn´t matter how old we are or what culture we belong, we all need people. In some cultures, family ties are very strong and family get togethers are prominent.  For other cultures, family friends and neighbours are also close by. It can be overwhelming for some and perhaps even unwanted by others but I believe that life is truly better when we are able to share it with others. I for one both need and want people in my life, I have moments when I need me time but for the most part I enjoy the company of others and I love working with people.  My life would have little purpose without all the amazing people and moments I shared it with.

I have friends, I think for the most part, we all have friends. I don´t mean how many facebook friends we have but rather real friends. Friends that have your back, friends you can call at 3am, who you can laugh with or cry with.  I don´t have many facebook friends, I don´t need to have an ever increasing number because I have some truly amazing friends. I have been lucky enough to share my journey, my experiences, my highs and lows with friends both physically present in the moment and with those back home.  I spoke to good friend (Thien) for an hour before Christmas, I spoke to another at 6am (Klaudia) whilst she was driving to play squash and my flat mate (Suzi) one Sunday afternoon, on skype after one year. These amongst other friends, have my back.  I don´t always have to call my friends because I’m good at writing longer, detailed messages, for instance, I write long messages to friends in Vietnam and Serbia.  Of course it would be great if I was physically present for my good friend´s wedding in Serbia and if I was able to celebrate Tet in Vietnam but there is only some much one can do.

I have different friends with whom I share different parts of my life. Some get to hear about all the crazy things, others about my worries, some I encourage and others I share my dreams with.  One dear, special, crazy friend is and will always be my sister, Seema, she does not know or understand everything about my life.  It is likely that she will not do half of what I have done but she is there for me and I do everything I can for her from here. We are very different people but she still makes me laugh until I cry, she is amongst one of the people I know I can call whenever I need and I also know, even if I do something stupid or crazy, she will be there.  Sure she will lose it and she will shout at me no doubt but she will not abandon me. When I feel low or shit, she is there showing me the silver lining.  She talks far too highly of me, she is too kind with her words and I am left feeling nothing but overwhelmed with this.

We all have shit in our lives, we all have days which are heavy and we just need to off load.  I sure have days like this and it is here when we need our friends the most. It is on such days that we need to be reminded that we are only responsible for our actions and feelings. I am not responsible for other people´s actions and more importantly their feelings.  I can try and resolve a misunderstanding or try and work things out but it takes two to make any relationship work. I believe we meet people for a reason and then it is on us how long they stay in our life. Some people are friends for just the moment and when the time passes so do they. I believe that those of whom really want to stay or be part of your life will find a way.

Friends make me happy, a good laugh or a deep conversation about the meaning of life. Truthfully, it doesn´t take much to make me happy, as some of my friends here realised, I am easily pleased.  A good night for me consists of pizza, Grey´s Anatomy and drinking a caipirinha.  But I am also happy to spend the afternoon reading a good book and drinking a cup of chai.  I like long showers and enjoy sleeping in, I look forward to meeting locals but can easily spend time with other backpackers. I don´t need or want expensive things, I´m a simple person who would much rather someone give me a handmade gift as that shows they put some thought into it and time. I´m happy spending time helping others and learning something new. It is now autumn here and the weather is beautiful, light winds and I wake up with a fresh, chilly morning breeze. I love autumn more than summer, I love the autumn leaves and the light grey skies.

So yes, we make up, we break up and the wheels on the bus go round.  Maybe I am too sensitive and too soft and maybe I am easily pleased.  But here´s the thing, I would rather be me than anyone else.  I love every part of me, the crazy, the confusing, my kind heard and my empathetic nature.   Sometimes, I spend too long thinking about other people and their feelings more than my own.  I try and ensure others don´t get hurt and in the process I get hurt.  I have seen and dealt with a lot of shit. I have worked in crisis situations with women self-harming, wanting to over dose and commit suicide.  I have seen lives changed, women transform, confidence restored and the positive impact of services.  I know I was built for this, I know that all the barriers, the difficulties and the let downs make me stronger. And most importantly, I know no know matter what, no matter where I am, I will handle it.