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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It’s perfectly acceptable to not be OK right now…

I had a chat to my boss the other in which I was extremely up front and honest about my current mental health status and how I well and truly have been neglecting myself and my own self care for a while now. I explained that my ever increasing and more frequent sick days have been a combination of a few things but mainly represent a debilitating sensation of burn out. During this time there has been more and more days where I simply cannot bring myself to get out of bed in the mornings. Even though I was prepared to say all of these things so openly I was still feeling an extreme sense of guilt at even having admitted one single element of this to myself. That no, I am not okay right now, but that it is perfectly reasonable for this to be the case.

There is so much taboo that occurs around mental health. I work in the disability sector and even though this is the case I find myself lying to my colleagues when questioned with why I have been away the previous day. I always feel like I open my mouth intending to be honest, because I truly believe that this is how to change the discourse around stigma, and yet the words that come tumbling out of my mouth never reflect this. In one particular instance I found myself stating ‘I’m just so exhausted… maybe I’m anaemic’? The recoil and horror of this exchange was felt immediately after I had closed my mouth and I found myself thinking why on earth did I just say that?

I’ve had a few conversations with close friends recently around the concept of why we neglect our mental health so much. A few of us, and myself included have just started seeing psychologists. Something that each and every one of us have stated that we have been meaning to do for years now. So what stopped us from taking this action in the past? The saddest thing to own up to about this is that we weren’t prepared to face the stigma that we place on ourselves for admitting that yes we do in fact need help and then going out and sourcing it. This form of self-denial in most instances is more devastating and damaging than the judgment that we perceive we would receive from the outside world. That self-criticism for perceivably not living up to standards of invented perfection are such a sad reflection of the way we view ourselves on a daily basis.

In identifying this I remember saying to my boss that while it may seem that things are somewhat off course right now, in this moment I am actually much healthier than I have been in the past. I am no longer doubting that I require assistance on some things to do with my own psyche. And even further than this, I am now at the stage where I have accepted this and taken the step to seek help and follow it through. It is because I want to better myself and create a future that is more positive and abundant that I am taking this course of action.

I understand that the wheels have to fall off and utter destruction occur before I can attempt to rebuild. I know that while this may be painful it is a necessary part of my growth and I will endeavour upon the next chapter of my life as a more balanced and healthy person than I was before. More importantly, I say this in solidarity for all of those people who have shared similar circumstances with me of late. It is okay to admit that things are difficult right now. It is okay to confess that we are struggling and that our focus right now is merely on putting one foot in front of the other and surviving. Because for right now we are simply doing the best that we can. Yes this may not be a time when we are at our best but this, just like all other things will pass and when it does we will be stronger, more resilient people who are honest with ourselves and those around us.

Sx

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My Feminism will be Intersectional or it will be bullshit.

Of late I have written a fair bit about feminism and intersectionality in an attempt to get the word out and assist the wider public’s understanding of how oppression is encountered differently based on identity. I work within the disability inclusive development sector and therefore I am much more aware and attune to the struggles of women with disabilities within the countries I manage and visit as part of my job. Last night I was lucky enough to attend a session on intersectionality here in Melbourne run by IWDA. In which a panel of speakers from different and varying backgrounds spoke of their experiences within the feminist movement and how this was nuanced based on other elements of their identity.

These women were articulate, passionate and thoroughly engaging and had the audience utterly captivated as they told their stories. As activists they spoke of the issues in which are prominent to them and explained the difficulties involved with how the feminist movement has been represented in the past. This was mainly around being front and centre represented by cis gendered, middle aged, middle to upper class white women. Jax Jackie Brown, a disability and LGBTQI activist spoke of being belittled and demeaned by other women who questioned the everyday difficulties she faces as a woman with disability when attempting to move freely across our city. She spoke of the cross examination and never ending questioning she is put through each and every day when she attempts to explain how inaccessible transport systems, infrastructure and road networks make her daily movements an impenetrable task on most occasions.

Jax’s experience in this context is painfully common as a person with a disability and she expressed this as much. However, what shocked her, and me plus the rest of the room even more, was her account of how other women, advocates and activists within the feminist movement have questioned her experience and made comments such as ‘well surely it isn’t that bad…’. For eons within the feminist movement we have spoken about how men continue to ‘mansplain’, speak over us and question whether things are ‘really that hard’ for us. It seems eerily absurd to me then that we are continuing to perpetuate this cycle within the feminist movement ourselves to those who have previously and still continue to sit on the fringes of society.

In recent times people, and especially men, are quick to lecture me on the fact that ‘the times are changing’ and point to more and more women being appointed as CEOs of large multi-nationals and corporate entities. They refer to these women and say, ‘see equality exists’. However, my response is always ‘and how many of these women are women of colour? How many are women with disabilities? How many are women who identify as being LGQTI?’. The short answer tho this is few to none, if any.

Until we comprehend that it isn’t a competition of who is subjugated the most, we will never successfully move forward with the struggle. I understand that my fight for equality and the oppression I feel daily is symptomatic of the same entrenched patriarchy that women such as Jax feel. However, I also understand that the ways in which we experience this component differ due to other elements of our identity. It is not my place to brutishly convince someone that their struggles are any more or less than my own. It is in fact my place to listen, to stand alongside women of colour, women with disabilities and those who identify as LGQTI and work together to further our rally cry of change, equality and justice.

Whilst yes we are all women, yes we are all feminists, we have to understand and admit that the feminist movement has not been representative of all the voices that encompass it in the past. We have failed to be intersectional, we have pushed the voices of those on the fringes even more to the side and we have questioned, demeaned and denigrated these and placed them in the ‘too hard basket’. We have focused on quick wins and not delved deeper into furthering the plight of those experiencing complex, varying and compounding oppressions.

Feminists, allies we CANNOT continue to do this. We need to be better as we forward. I say this today with every fibre of my being and I challenge you to do so yourselves… ‘My Feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.’ PREACH!

Sx


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To my Twin Flame.

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You haven’t even entered my life and yet I continue to feel your presence. I had the most vivid dreams last night and while they weren’t about you per say I could feel you there with me, in that moment, in that space. It was a feeling of innate trust, of knowing that you were experiencing those things with me. How is it possible that I don’t know you yet but that you are with me each and every time I close my eyes in my dreams?

As difficult as it is to explain, I know that you are out there. Much closer than before, I can sense you standing on the peripheries just about to take that step in which you will enter my life and reveal yourself once and for all. Perhaps you are feeling the same pull towards me that I am towards you. A distinct yearning that goes beyond what the conscious mind perceives and instead enters the realm of your heart and soul.

I know you are near my twin flame because it is as this precise moment that I see myself and my own path so clearly. For the first time in all my years of existence, I know where I am headed and that path is my own distinctive journey to take but one in which you will take alongside me. We will walk that path as one soul in two bodies and bring our own unique sense of purpose to this pursuit. We will serve as each other’s catalyst propelling ourselves to a more abundant future but at the same time reflect back to each other the inner shadows within us both as a reminder of our truths.

You will act as a mirror for the rest of my days, as I will to you. The other half of my soul who will look into my eyes, see through to my heart and then reflect back my true self. These moments will continue to serve as prompters for ongoing creativity, spirituality and an awakening that I have never known before. I will fulfil my purpose in this life, just as you will for your own and within this experience we will forever act as each other’s mirror souls.

I have already felt an existential shift in the way in which I see, perceive and live in this world. I have taken a step in the direction of my truth and all these things have been prompted from within. But I can somehow sense that the next step I take is on deliberatively and purposefully towards you. I already know you in my dreams but I look forward to the day our paths cross in the conscious realm.

To my Twin Flame, our time is near.

Sx


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Heck Yes to Marriage Equality.

It’s about damn time that I composed a piece on marriage equality. Can I first of all preface this by stating what an absolute farce it is that the Government has put an issue of basic human rights to the public for a vote around whether or not we continue to impede on something that should be a fundamental given?! But this aside, I wanted to pen something that affirmed my absolute commitment to the yes vote and at the same time attempt to work through the notion associated with how a segment of the population are convincing themselves that voting no is anything but bigotry and playing into an example of systemic and entrenched discrimination.

In my own life, I work in the international development sphere and surround myself with those who are passionate about making a change in this world. This has meant that I have been blessed to consistently find myself around free & forward thinking, liberal innovators who most of them are activists themselves. However, my family background is quite different to this circumstance. I come from a traditional, conservative Sri Lankan family who often tend to unwittingly and mindlessly spout things like ‘marriage should be between a man and a woman’. I’ve often commented on these seemingly abrupt and out of place expressions by asking questions around why they hold this belief in the first place. All of them will immediately cite religion, Christianity and the Bible. But when I attempt to dig a little deeper and ask why they believe this beyond what they have interpreted religion to express they can’t seem to come up with a definitive answer.

Now, there are 2 ways that we can deal with this. The 1st is the whole notion that something that was written in a book thousands of years ago should still be used as a literal ‘how to guide’. I mean society has evolved and changed so much in this time and the whole scope of a community’s moral compass, its values and ideals have changed alongside with this. It is a fluid process and therefore the notion that the guidance for such should be rooted in a document which remains stagnant seems absurd in the greatest.

The 2nd point and the one which I cannot move away from is that this entire issue, of one human being having the freedom and ability to marry the one that they love is not a question but instead it is and always will be a fundamental and basic human right which is universally applicable to all. Imagine if the Government turned around tomorrow and mandated that the general public will vote on whether or not people of South Asian descent have the right to work in the commercial sector. And please don’t turn around and tell me that the latter goes against equal opportunity rights and is downright discrimination whereas the former, around marriage equality is an ‘ethical issue’.  The no vote’s ability to compartmentalise is this entire situation astounds me as much as it scares me.

Then there is the debate (which isn’t actually a debate at all) around whether or not a child should have parents who are of different sexes. There is no evidence, research, data or any academic study out there that indicates that a child has a lower quality of life when growing up with same sex parents. Nor is there any data to suggest that all heterosexual coupled, nuclear families produce happier and more well adjusted children. Let me say from experience, coming from what on the outside looks like one of these families that my childhood was anything but this and the quality of my life as a child was actually impeded on the fact that my cis heterosexual parents stayed together. And what of the children that come from single parent households….?!

Honestly, it pains me so to even have to write a piece such as this where I am attempting to justify why we shouldn’t impede on the rights of other human beings. This isn’t a matter of ethics or morals, because those elements are fluid and constantly changing. Nor is this a matter of religion, because this itself is up for multiple and differing interpretations. This, at its heart and at it’s very core is a matter of humanity. It’s a question of whether or not the principle of freedom from discrimination, freedom from oppression and equal opportunity for all is universally applicable or whether or not one human being is deemed lesser than the other and therefore not viable for the same amount of respect, dignity and equality before the law.

Sx


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Your Truth is Unique to You.

I’ve come to understand that a large part of self growth goes beyond simply understanding the world and the intentions of others. It goes further than this element to consist of looking deeper within oneself and acknowledging fundamental and profound misgivings within. I know for me that revolves around the duality of my expectations for this life and from those who come in and out of it and I’ll admit that I been far from fair when yielding these so indiscriminately.

I speak a lot about being true to myself and living my life according to a set of morals and values that are deeply personal to me. What I have understood of late is that I have had the tendency to project these expectations onto those around me and then resent the fact that they haven’t been lived up to. I’ve felt so jaded that those within my company haven’t played out to a set of rigid and unattainable expectations which have risen out of my own consciousness of which I have unwittingly projected onto them. Now when I speak about this, it’s not expectations around loyalty, or deceit or respect, those elements are irrefutable to me and play out within whether or not someone’s actions match their words. What I am referring to here is that I expect an unrealistic and idealised version of perfection based on my own self invented standards from those around me, especially when it comes to those I make myself vulnerable to or with.

I have often said that everyone lets me down eventually because what I expect from them is rooted in a utopian realm in which, let’s be honest actual human beings are not capable of living. I will admit that I have been too black and white in certain interactions and then turned around and affirmed the presence of so many shades of grey in others. I can now confess this, and I see oh so clearly the hypocrisy involved.

In one particular instance, I saw and judged a certain person not as a reflection of themselves, not of who they are as an individual but as a manifestation of the ‘perfect’ which exists only in my fantasy world. I will admit in this instance that the rose-coloured glasses I see this world through clouded my view so badly that I couldn’t actually see straight. I heard a quote the other day which rings so true to this particular exchange as it states “I am constantly refining my understanding of the world through conversations with other people”. This sense of learning, of growing, of changing through accepting this element is an inherent life lesson in and of itself.

There’s been a certain level of cathartic release in the sheer act of simply admitting this to myself. I don’t believe that I am wrong in expecting better of people and of humanity, but this interaction had made me realise that there is a difference between expecting better and more than that of expecting perfection. I mean this is a concept which does not exist and I would never even pretend that I could attain to and nor would I want to.

What I all too often forget is that someone else’s version of living their truth is exactly that, their own. It will look nothing like mine and whilst I may instinctively judge based on my own journey, I actually have no right to. The whole notion of your own truth is exactly that and to this person who I imposed my judgment on, I am truly sorry. I have come to understand that there is a beauty in knowing when something that you felt so strongly about was in fact slightly askew and therefore misplaced. I have done my best to identify the presence of this practice in myself and the way in which I view others and made peace with this element. I now move forward in the hope of a more understanding outlook in which I expect betterment but not perfection from those I care for and whom grace my life with their presence.

For an instant, I forgot that it’s the complexities about human beings that make us so special. In the projection of my expectations of ‘perfect’ I overlooked the fact that these elements are subjective to begin with and more importantly are not grounded in reality. Unicorns don’t exist, perfection doesn’t exist. The only thing that is real and true is the imperfect nature of a lack of perfection within all of us.

Sx


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An Ode to the Self-Critic Within.

Boy have I been guilty of being my own worst critic throughout my life. I have been cranky with myself, chastised every minute element of my waking moments and constantly marked myself down for a perceived lack of progress in an existence which I have unrealistically tied myself too. In a moment of sheer clarity the other day I remember thinking, what would happen if I spoke to a friend or loved one in this way? The instant reaction, which was utterly innate, is that I would never speak to anyone else the way I speak to myself. So why on earth do I continue to do it within my own self thought?

Someone very wise once told me that I am crushing my intuition and throwing away my gifts through an ongoing commitment to an unrelenting self-criticism. I have viewed myself so harshly and attributed my inner spirit with such judgment and contempt that I have somehow boxed myself in to this never ending cycle of negativity. Thinking about this element, it seems so foreign to me because I am far from a negative person. I am the eternal optimist, the dreamer, the searcher, the lover and the idealist. I am a healer which I understand so distinctly because my first instinct is always to sacrifice myself and my well-being to be there for others. But somewhere down the line I forgot that in order to nurture this world and continue to project love and light, I have to start from within and be kind and far less judgmental to my own inner being first.

I look back now and wonder how it was possible to be so self-critical of a life that yes has had its hardships, but one that I have endeavoured upon nevertheless with a pure and open heart. How could I judge myself so negatively for living through a tumultuous household in which hatred and spite were the order of the day, and yet my first instinct has continued to be love, kindness and harmony? How is it possible to reprimand my enduring strength and commitment when I have never strayed from the morals and principles that bind my spirit, in spite of the cruelty and cynicism that surround me?

I have been so unkind to myself that it hurts to even think that I am capable of such malice. If only I was aware of what I know now; that I was unjustly judging the progress of my life, my emotions, my reactions and vulnerabilities by a set of unrealistic, impossible set of standards in which I would never judge any other human being on this planet against. The truth is I have done the best that I can for all this time. I have strived to be better every day and not dwelled on the misgivings of my past. I have woken up, even on those most mentally tormented of days, gotten out of bed, put one foot in front of the other and overcome. I have persisted even in the moments when I questioned everything and had no clue of where I was headed. It seems futile to now turn around and apologise to myself for all of this, but at the same time it feels oh so necessary. From the bottom of my heart, I am sorry, I was wrong and I promise to never do this again.

Sx


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My Dear Fragile Human..

Sabene, you damn beaut… Look at yourself through the eyes of others. You have achieved so much, come so far. You have fought to be you, a pure, kind, honest soul in an unforgiving, cruel world. For the past 10 years, you have dedicated yourself to your trade and travelled to the most incredible of places. You have met some amazing and wonderful people who have helped shape you into the brave and courageous person you are today. Do not forget to appreciate your uniqueness, value your free spirit and drive to pave your own path. Never give in to the voices who question or doubt you, for they have their own reasons for this and their own voyage to make which is separate from your own.

But now, stop heeding the negativity of those who oppose your direction. Stop looking back, you are not going that way. Listen to your heart, dig deep into your soul and hear it what it yearns for. Continue to wear your heart on your sleeve for the love that you will find in return of this will be worth every bit of heartache you have endured. Take a risk right now on where you next place your feet towards your future, embark on that glorious leap. Write, dance, travel, laugh, cry, love and live to the most epic proportions that you can imagine. Put these elements into play in tangible ways that count and then trust the universe because you cannot escape your destiny.

You my dear sweet loving human are meant for greater things. You are destined for a life that is beyond average. I have every confidence in the world that you are brave and resilient enough to land on your feet no matter the choice or direction you decide on.

Do not be tainted by your past. Remember, you have come so far and every tear you have shed, every love you have lost has occurred to place you in the position you are in right now. Keep fighting, keep believing, keep striving because you have lived a life that is worthy and will continue to be so in the years to come. Your future is up for the taking.

Sx