I blog for Change…

As I attempt to orient the windy and often treacherous roads that encapsulate life, here are some of my thoughts on the successes, failures and ultimately the hope and positivity in which I strive for a better world. I also hope that I can use this blog as a platform to elevate the social justice issues that are somewhat forgotten in the modern discourse of staying silent on issues that challenge. Sx


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Live bravely.

I’ve noticed that I’ve been writing a lot more about love these days. I’m not entirely sure if that’s because I feel more inspired these days or if by some miraculous force greater than me, my heart has started to open up again. I started to see a trend in myself, in the way that I process emotions over the last few years. Frankly I’ve been numb; I’ve shied away from any type of encounter that would leave me vulnerable in any which way. I’ve now understood that I did these things to protect myself. But it wasn’t a conscious decision that I made, it came from somewhere deep within that had lost too much, that had their heart broken too many times, that had felt the excruciating pain of being let down by people over and over again.

So I closed off my heart. I refused to take any chances or let anyone in because at least that way I could be in control of my own emotions. But for whatever reason over the last few months I feel a shift in which the door that had been so tightly locked has suddenly and without warning creeped ajar.

If I look back I struggle to find one solitary element which was the catalyst for this but what I can pinpoint is that I have been far more brave than before. I took a chance recently on someone who I have been drawn to for a long time. In the past we’ve had our time but have both been cautious and to be honest the timing was also ‘never right’. We danced around each other and never addressed our feelings. If I’m honest this suited me in a way where I didn’t ever really have to offer anything of myself, of my heart, of my soul to him. But all the time I knew that I was repressing my feelings or at least the element of exploring what if with this person.

I found myself stuck within this cycle once again recently. Except this time instead of hiding behind a nonchalant emotion, I decided that it was time that I faced the underlying motivation of why I always fell back into this arms. So I reached out, I put myself out there. It was one of the most difficult things I have done in years. Because for so long I have actively decided to not lean on anyone, to not give anyone an entry point into my life. Not because I didn’t want anyone around, but because people let me down; people always let me down.

In spite of all of this, I swallowed my pride and my fear. I put aside my ego and purposely made myself vulnerable. I wanted to show this person that I cared, I cared enough to put my heart on the line. As hard as it was, I would do it for myself as much as this other person because I didn’t want to hide  or shield myself anymore.

In the end it didn’t really go the way I’d planned. I was let down again, or perhaps looking at it another way, this person just wasn’t at the same place that I was. They were not ready or willing to be brave in the same way that I was. They needed to protect themselves just as I had for all those years. Looking back I don’t feel sad or ashamed for having put myself out there. On the contrary, I am proud that I overcame all of the things which has previously held me back to take a chance on something.

I can’t exactly explain how but this whole encounter has somehow shifted something within me. It’s cleared a blockage in my heart which has kept me from all the things I had initially envisioned for myself; love, happiness, adventure. So in hindsight I have to thank this person who taught me an invaluable lesson about life. Live bravely, take chances and gamble greatly on the things which mean the most to you. Do not be afraid to try.

Sx

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To my lost Soulmate…

I’ve felt a deep void in my life for some time now. At first, I put it down to growing pains, to easing into the next stage of my life even if entirely uncomfortably. But if I’m to be honest, it has nothing to do with that at all. The truth is I let go of someone who shaped the person that I have become today. Someone who I was lucky to have known at all. I can now admit that I was never fair to him, I loved him selfishly and I didn’t deserve him. But I want to take the time out today to say that I miss him achingly and I wonder if he ever thinks of me the way I think of him.

See back then I couldn’t see clearly. I didn’t understand that a connection as unique as ours was rare. I hadn’t yet fathomed that no one else would ever look at me the way you do, or the way you did. No one else would look into my eyes and see my soul. For no one else saw me as you did, entirely unique, as I am with flaws and all.

The truth is you were always there for me. I never felt alone or cautious in that way because I always knew if I turned back you would be standing right there, guiding me and supporting me as I moved forward as you always did. I never realised that the source of my belief stemmed from yours. Looking back there were so many times when I doubted myself, when I was crippled by self-doubt. I felt debilitated and frighteningly stagnant because I’d lost hope for myself. In those times it was always you that carried me forward. You who was there to reassure me that I mattered, that I was worthy of love, of life. Your belief in me, your unconditional love was what motivated me to continue to believe in myself and who I was destined to become.

To say I miss you would be a ridiculously absurd understatement. I write this today in the hope that you might just see this and that you will one day understand just how much you meant to me, how much you still mean to me. If we were never to encounter each other again for the rest of our lifetimes, I could honestly say that I am better of having known you. I am a better human being because of you. You made me stronger, your love transformed how I viewed myself and it still forms the core of who I am as a person.

It’s easy to see things so much clearer in hindsight. It by no means excuses the selfish pursuits I subjected you to. I was never able to love you the way you deserved to be loved. But I hope that in reading this, it provides you with a small sentiment of my enduring gratitude and love, of my appreciation for having known you. See you changed me; I saw myself through your eyes and it reaffirmed all of the things that I have doubted for so many years.

I will always miss you. It will always feel like something profound is missing in my life. But I go on within this existence with your memory in my heart, motivating all that I do. You are and always will be my soulmate. While I understand that we can’t be together within this lifetime, I know that our spirits, our souls will continue to find each other over and over again as we are born and reborn for the rest of eternity.

To my lost soulmate, thank you and goodbye for now.

Sx


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To Love?

I made a passing comment the other day about feeling like I’m going around in circles in my life but didn’t realise how deeply poignant this statement was until I pondered on it properly. To clarify, I was making the proclamation based on the sole assessment of my love life, or lack thereof. In all other aspects of my existence I feel quite the opposite. Career wise I can feel the shift as I enter the next phase. As is the same for my other relationships and ‘life progress’ in general. I feel like I’ve now hit the sweet spot with nurturing the relationships I have with those I love. The friends and family I have who are closest to me are there for a reason and I would trust them with everything; and I know they feel the same way. So why then do I feel so strongly that this is the opposite when it comes to one specific area of my life?

I’ve often written of how lucky I am to be surrounded by people who I can have honest and true conversations with. I was speaking to one of these kindred spirits not so long ago and pondering on the status of a ‘lost love’ who is still in some way hovering around in the picture. At this time I verbalised a feeling of how I had once again started to think that perhaps after everything, and despite all of the prolonged hardship, maybe this person was actually the one for me. And furthermore, maybe we actually had a chance this time around.

In saying all of this, even at that time I recall also raising the possibility that maybe these feelings weren’t exactly true. I began to wonder if maybe I was just looking back irrationally and romanticising a problematic relationship that was problematic even back then. I began to understand that I had taken the easy route of falling back on past relationships and past ‘someones’ looking into my future. It was just so much easier to think about those I already know, as wrong for me as I knew they were, than to look into a questionable future with potential someones.

It became quite obvious so very quickly that this person was not the one for me. More than that, they weren’t really there at all. They had just been, for all that time the one I’d be leaning on as an excuse not to take that step forward, into the unknown. Keeping the possibility alive in my mind had somehow allowed me to not try. It had kept me in a safe back up space in which I reasoned that I didn’t need to put myself out there and wade into murky waters because my future was already set; surely with this person that had to be for me.

To be honest, it was never an idea based in rationality. I mean if I think about it further, this person isn’t who I could see myself forging a life alongside. They were just my easy out to not challenge myself, to hide behind and refrain from admitting that I didn’t know; that I just hadn’t met that person yet. This is not saying that I didn’t feel for this person, or that at the time they were properly in my life, that it wasn’t something special, something that I treasured. But I think I knew even back then, that it was fleeting. Because deep down, despite all of the fear of the unknown, I respected myself enough and believed in my future enough to know that there was something more for me out there. Yes it’s something I couldn’t see back then, and honestly that I can’t see right now but that doesn’t mean it isn’t out there waiting for me somewhere along the line.

I realise now that the ease of this comfort zone was holding me back. I was deliberately leaving the door slightly ajar not because I thought it was a viable choice, but because I had tricked myself into believing that it made me feel better. But it hasn’t done that, all it’s done is held me back and resulted in me projecting tainted expectations on the wrong person.

Sx


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Take off your mask.

It’s needless to say that some of the best content for my blogs comes from natural interactions with close friends and family. The honesty I tend to share with my loved ones usually means that the conversations we have rarely solely sit within the trivial. I often wonder whether this is because I just naturally take conversations there or if people sensing the opportunity to be open and honest pursue this with me somewhat subconsciously.

I think the best way to explain my approach to life in general is that basically, I just wear my shit closer to the surface than everyone else.  The easiest way to translate this is to say that when I’m not feeling so great or doubting something in my life, I tend to speak up and verbalise it. It draws on that concept once again that vulnerability and honesty dictate how my life is lived. It’s almost as if I can’t help myself. If someone were to ask me how I was and I wasn’t feeling so flash hot that day my answer would most definitely be.. yeah not so great.

It seems that this concept is one which is a little different to that taken in general. The tendency seems to revolve around the need to portray oneself as thriving always, even if you aren’t and more poignantly, even if that is not humanly possible to achieve in the first place.

A huge part of my life and my mandate as an individual has been a commitment to pursuing and prompting open dialogue. Something that usually means that when speaking with others or within my writing I tend to focus on the everyday struggles that seek to inhibit my growth, and most likely also others around me.

I saw this Instagram post the other day which was a disclaimer to the distortion Instagram presents by depicting a tiny window of people’s lives. And it’s always the ‘best of’ window. A plethora of recent studies have indicated that social media is not only harmful to people’s mental health but that it is setting some insurmountable comparisons within our own lives as we strive to ‘live our best life’, just like those we see on instagram.

Even within the accounts of those of us who are not paid for our posts, the majority of what we tend to put up rests on the ‘bests’ of everything. Whether it be our ‘fantastic and delicious’ meals, travel to ‘wanderlust worthy’ destinations or pouty selfies which have been analysed in minute detail to depict ‘our best side’, in the ‘best light’; I mean, need I go on.

I suppose it falls back onto the element of showing other people that we are living greatly, always. It rests on portraying a certain idea to the world in which others are supposed to see, be in awe of and aspire to lead similarly wonderful existences.

The problem with this is that this image is utterly distorted. It presents only a snapshot of that persons existence in which they are only putting up what they want you to see. Rarely do people put up untouched/uncropped images of themselves. Nor do you see the tiredness, or homesickness portrayed which is an inevitable result of long bouts of travel. You don’t tend to see posts associated with the days when people wake up and question themselves and the choices they have made so far.. even though these are all inevitable components of being a human being.

My point in all of this, including the analysis above focuses on the ideal that we need to stop portraying only the ‘best’ part of ourselves and our lives. We need to also post, speak and reflect on the things that are difficult, the things that didn’t go to plan. We need to be honest in order to set more attainable and realistic goals for ourselves and our lives and others.

So let’s stop trying to invest in the façade. Let’s not wear that mask anymore and let’s attempt to be honest about our experiences, as flawed, vulnerable human beings just trying to work it all out.

Sx


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Please don’t assume..!

I was reminded the other day of the assumptions (or should I say misassumptions), people tend to make when they associate someone in Australia with a linguistically diverse background. As you may know, through reading recent posts on this platform my parents have recently moved back to Sri Lanka after 28 years of being away. The swiftness of this process meant that they left with some logistics still up in the air. One of these, on my Mum’s part was forgetting to cancel an ongoing direct debit payment. Which inevitably meant that this then fell to me. What I have felt after this process is something that I had hoped had eased over time, but instead still seems to reign true in this country. The assumption that just because I have a somewhat ‘exotic’ surname and my parents live overseas, that their English language skills must be lacking.

To give this a bit more context, I’ll explain the scenario which I found myself in. I called up this said company and conveyed the issue at hand. I was actually asking for an international number for my Mum to be able to access in order to absolve me from the responsibility of following this through, sorry Mum.. #baddaughter. In any case, after a long spiel the person speaking to me proclaimed, in such a forthright manner “it’s probably best for your Mum to give you authority and for you to speak to us if she has English language difficulties”.

The immediate response I had was a flash of red hot anger. Basically, this person had drawn on an assumption that just because my parents were now living overseas, and my mother’s name ‘Ramona Zulika Gomes’ was somewhat ethnic sounding, that she could not speak English.  My response, as best controlled as possible was “well, I think you’ll find that my mother’s proficiency in English is fluent”. I so desperately wanted to add… “it’s most probably better than yours” but miraculously managed to hold back this comment.

The assumption that those of us who have emigrated from other countries are hapless brown faced illiterates with an ability to speak a word of English is as maddening as it is dangerous. My parents grew up in Sri Lanka and attended school at the time when English was the median language. They studied in English and Sinhala and spoke both of these languages at home and within their everyday lives. Prior to migrating to Australia they went through rigorous testing and had to prove their proficiency in a language they had spoken their whole lives, English.

To this day the language I speak at home with them is English tinged with some Sinhala, but it is predominantly the former. The connotation that they are unable to communicate in English just because of their skin colour, background and decision to leave this country highlights the lack of understanding relating to those of us who identify as both Australian and another nationality; particularly one from the Global South.

I mean yes this is ultimately because of colonialisation, which is a whole another issue to tackle at another time. But my point is, don’t assume. We are a country made up of a fantastic mix of ethnically and linguistically diverse people. The ‘immigrant’ story is not the same from one person to the next. My skin colour and ethnic surname does not mean that you are allowed to pigeon hole me and assume lesser things of myself or my family.

Sx

*Images courtesy of the incredible NorBlackNorWhite enterprise. Their philosophy on the multi-faceted nation of identity and subsequent ‘mash ups’ truly represent the idea of intersectionality.

https://norblacknorwhite.com/

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To India, farewell.

bolchugre school

The beginning of 2019 ushered in a series of changes in my life. One of these happened to be changing portfolios at work meaning that I would no longer be looking after CBMA’s India programs. When I heard of the news I remember feeling a combination of very mixed emotions. On the one hand I felt that change was a good thing and new challenges would benefit me as I progressed professionally. But on the other hand I felt a deep seated personal loss. One for the people I had met along the way and also for understanding that I wouldn’t be able to travel to India in the same way anymore.

As I slowly came to terms with this transition what stayed with me was a feeling of true pride for having had the opportunity that the last 3 and a half years presented me. I began to realise that those I met and the experiences I had would stay with me for a lifetime.

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As I look back I am reminded of the times that I was in awe of my experiences. Such as the time when I was travelling through Kodaikanal visiting a Community Based Rehabilitation project. As we finished the day’s activities we began to drive down the windy slopes synonymous with the Kodai hill station. At the time the sun was just starting to set and I remember looking up and out of the window to see a pink/purple horizon over the hills. The image took my breath away and I recall that being one of the very few moments within my lifetime that nothing else mattered except for the natural beauty of that sunset.

kalikayatna approach ii

I’ve often expressed verbally the true kinship and sisterhood I have felt with women in the communities I have visited throughout my time working in India. I can’t mention this enough because it has truly moved me. In particular I will always hold true being in Ranchi and meeting the fantastic women within the MISSI network. Their courage, determination and fight to better their own circumstances and collectively struggle towards equality is beyond awe inspiring. What remains with me is their commitment towards this concept in spite of truly horrific circumstances. How they have been able to turn despair into hope will motivate me for the rest of my days.

Another fond memory I have takes me back to Tura during my stay with the Montfort Brothers. Their openness and hospitality towards me was something that resonates with the idea of an affinity based solely on shared humanity. The commitment they display, in which they have given the entirety of their lives for is one which is beyond words.

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These are just tidbits of some of the stories of the Partners I have encountered on my journey. There are so many others who have inspired me through their work, through their commitment to development and inclusion and I know we will be connected for a lifetime.

I will miss so many things relating to India. I’ll miss the endless amounts of chai; during road stops, in the office and in communities. I’ll continue to crave for the creamy, delicious and refreshing buttermilk which has been offered to me within households of those I’ve visited. I’ll miss the wafting scents of curries, of coconut sambals and the spices of chilli and saffron that have enchanted outsiders for generations.

But most of all, I’ll miss working with wonderful colleagues who have become lifelong friends. I will always cherish the conversations had over meals, through travel on planes, trains and long car rides. I’ll remember interactions within communities based on shared commitment towards inclusion and I’ll draw happiness from the laughter and kinship I’ve felt over 3 and a half wonderful years.

As I take the next step forward to a new region, new colleagues and communities I draw on the experiences I have had in India which will continue to motivate me for as long as I live.

To India, my dear friend, you have taught me so much.

I bid you farewell with an enduring promise to return.

Sx

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To Melancholy.

I had a fantastic conversation with a friend the other day about how melancholy seems to be an ongoing feature of our lives. I came upon the thought when having a discussion about life in general and looking back through consistently tainted eyes. I discovered that the shadow of enduring melancholy has been one of the main features of my existence for no apparent reason.

But then again that’s what melancholy is all about, an “all-encompassing pensive sadness for no obvious reason”. Having this interaction helped me to unpack the entire element of the feeling and what it actually means in my own life and the lives of others. It does not entail that I am pessimistic or dejected all the time. It is quite the contrary actually.

I believe myself to be an inherently optimistic person. An idealist and thus I consistently believe in the best of people and situations. I am led by the enduring spirit of hope and hence the persistent presence of melancholy in my life perplexes me greatly.

Sitting down and thinking of this element led me to compose the below:

Melancholy, oh how I have fallen into your arms throughout the years. I’ve gotten lost in your embrace as you tighten your grip around me. Each time this occurs I lose my breath underneath the weight of your presence. But hence, I never flinch or resist; I simply sink deeper within your hold. You engulf my thoughts, my being, my soul as I slip. The sensation consumes all elements of my being and taints memories past and at the same time present, tainting all encounters to come.

I mean it all sounds a bit depressing doesn’t it? The idea of constantly being accompanied by a never ending black cloud is terrifying. But perhaps instead of trying to deny its existence or chase it away, maybe I would be better served to acknowledge its presence without getting lost in it.

Furthermore, what if instead of identifying the feeling as one of sadness without an obvious cause I challenged that idea in its entirety. What if it isn’t about this at all?

I’ve come to learn that I am an extremely nostalgic person. This has meant that in one way or another I have tended to mourn the natural loss of every single detail of my life. Including the loss of a situation, of an encounter, of an experience. Many times over this has taken the form of the loss of the presence of a person, of a friend, of a relationship. But perhaps that’s just a piece of who I am.

The one thing I know for sure is that I feel, so intensely, over and about everything. This means that as I move through life I experience heightened emotions especially when it comes to separation or the metaphorical ‘end’ of something. This doesn’t mean that this dictates how I move forward, it just represents that I acknowledge a situation, admit that it meant something to me and feel its loss as I take that step away.

In saying all of this I acknowledge that I could be better about not letting this taint every single memory or experience. Instead of focusing on the loss of something I could perhaps consider how I felt during it. I could imagine back to the time when I was in its midst and how joyful it made me feel at that time.

I now see that it’s ok to feel melancholic at times, that’s a natural part of being alive. But surely drawing on hope, belief and content is a better way to look both back to the past and forward into the present and future.

Sx