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Moving on from the Slut-o-sphere

We’ve all been exposed to bullying. Even if it’s a scene in a movie that leaves us disturbed, or a real life experience that has scarred us for life. I don’t think any one of us could not recall an anecdote about someone big/tough/mean doing something nasty/funny/scary to someone small/weak/feminine.


The reason it’s been almost a month since my last posting is because of this exact issue. I wanted to write about the days at school that left me petrified to be seen; the days where I would hate every second of a class because the boys sitting behind me were calling he horrid names behind their text books in whispered breaths. Even though I was a ‘popular’ girl at school, there were plenty of mean boys who felt I was too big for my boots and needed to be brought down a peg or three. They named a cricket bat after me and swore to use it to beat my head in before we left school. They would rewrite my name on the blackboard, making it into rude verbs rather than what it actually was. God forbid my history teacher actually used my initial – that lent itself to some seriously cruel ‘C-words.’


So I have been fighting this internal struggle about those days of teenage torment, accentuated no doubt by my raging hormones, boarding school misbehaviour and bordering-on-dangerous long term boyfriend. I wanted to write a tell-all and drudge up news so old it would be printed on brown paper in sepia ink. I wanted to shed some light on those nasty bastards and expose them for who they were. I really wanted to empathise with a vlog doing the rounds now of a university student who has been victimised and called a slut for saying out loud that she liked sex; women should never be victimised for airing their opinions, especially on a topic where the standard is so clearly different for each gender.


Still, there will be no, (okay, very little) dirty laundry aired today.


Hi, My name is Carrie. I was called a slut and a cunt, a bitch and a slag all through high school. I am clean of nasty nicknames and hater-clubs and have been since 1998. Remnants of these days struck back in 2004 when an alumni met me in my new home town, seven hundred kilometers away from where I finished high school and six years after I had matriculated, and greeted me warmly: “Hey! Miss Goodtime!” this was probably the kindest insult where my surname was involved.


At first I had to remind myself that he was speaking to me.


Then I had to remind myself not to walk away.


But finally I remembered that the six years after school had afforded me so many amazing opportunities to work on the varsity radio station, to work on the campus newspaper, to sing in one of the world’s best university choirs, to play in a national string ensemble, to lead on the SRC and to get a Master’s Degree. I'd studied at Oxford. I had partied like a rock star too. I had been known for being slightly off my wagon and dyeing my hair dodgy colours. But I had become a real person. I’d become a devout Christian. I’d met my fabulous boyfriend and husband-to-be.


He – this drunken stranger whose name I didn’t remember then and certainly don’t now – had missed out on the real me and that was his loss.


I bought him a beer and went on dancing with my new friends.


And that’s what I felt I should do here too. Despite wanting to write the gory details of those childish assholes. I really can't for two reasons:



  1. It was a long time ago.

  2. I’ve forgiven them already.


 
Not to blow my own horn or anything, but I have been in a pretty happy place lately. For the first time in eleven years I have a vague friendship circle. I have reconnected with my wonderful church and I have finally lost some baby weight. I feel happy.


I also feel happy because my Mom, sage as always, gave me advice to build a life for my family and focus on our happiness. We know that my husband works extremely hard and probably will miss out on a lot, so rather be prepared for that than expect too much and be disappointed. It changed my whole life. So simple, but it works. After almost eight years of marriage and eleven years of dating, I now see time with my husband as a treat. A rare and delectable treat. If it were a meal, he would be that perfect crème brûlée. My life would still be a smorgasbord of delicious Banting delicacies. But when he is around, we have dessert too. I don’t live on Provita and Marmite. No ways! 


There’s just too much life in our life. It just may not look the way it looked on the brochure, but it’s so much better.


So why, the fact that it was so long ago? Well, I don’t think there’s much to be gained in the journey going forward if you are staring backwards. Holding on to a past that hasn’t benefited you in some way is senseless. Use the cellphone contact list rule: does this person have my number? Have they ever used it to call me? Well, then why should I keep their number? (Naturally this does not apply to hospitals, ambulances, police offices…) Clean up your contacts list. And by using the same pragmatism, work through those issues holding you back in a time when you were not your best or not being treated the way you deserve.


It kills me to know that there are people out there who only remember me as the girl from high school who had that boyfriend who cheated on me all the time, made me cry for at least two days a week and then made up in time for the weekend. Or worse, that some of those people may have witnessed the one and only time said boyfriend accidentally smacked my jaw and I was sore to speak for three days after. I’ve moved on so much from there. I am so much more than that.


And thank the Lord that I have.


So reflecting on the past is only good when you have really left it behind. No ways you’re going to move forward while there’s still an anchor attaching your vessel to the depths of your sad times.


Secondly, I forgave those silly boys, who are now men, years ago. In some instances it was over a shooter at a bar, in others it was in tears in the back of my church. Not forgiving someone is like drinking the poison yourself and hoping they will die. It’s something we so often allow to fester in our lives when the wound is desperate to be healed.


And don’t say, ‘He doesn’t deserve my forgiveness,’ it’s not about HIM. It’s about freeing yourself to live the life you deserve. Only in the freedom of forgiveness can you truly heal your own heart and soul and mind.


You also move to a place where retrospection becomes wisdom. I now have two little girls with my same naughty nature. I can see the writing on the wall for the life they may want to lead and I pray against it every day! Pray they’ll be a little more rule-abiding than I was, a little more respectful. I pray that they will love themselves enough to honour their own self worth. I pray that they will love Jesus enough to honour His word. I ask myself time and time again, what could my parents have done differently to prevent a little of the hurt I exposed myself to in life. And the answer is always, They did the best they could, I just didn’t listen very well.


In this newly gained wisdom, I've discovered that one of my worst school-boy tormentors is having a little baby girl soon. This is the fact that stirred up all these emotions in the first place. I had to laugh at God’s sense of humour. This guy was the closest thing to a masochist I have ever come across. He derived pleasure from the pain he passed down on the young ladies he hated. (A cricket bat?? Were they crazy?) By the final day of school, however, he had apologised. And a few years later, I forgave.


But now, in the ultimate twist of divine intervention, he has a daughter on the way. And I find myself at a spiritual crossroads once again. Praying that his little girl is a teenager just like me: confident and sexy and cheeky and self-assured. But then praying that she never meets a boy like him who will hate her for those attributes and call her a slut for being beautiful and friendly. I'm sure, if he is a man of faith at all, he is probably praying for the same thing. And in his home, in years to come, will stand a cricket bat with a new purpose, one to warn off suitors with ill-conceived ideas, or bullies.   


And maybe then he will wonder what happened to Miss ‘C’ Goodtime, and maybe for a second he will feel sincere regret. Maybe becoming a father to a little girl will make him wonder how my father felt when I cried in his arms because of the things those boys said. And maybe, if God really gets it right, this same father will later be blessed with a baby boy too. So that, in that son, he can amend a few of his deviant ways. Because only by changing what lies ahead of us can we actually fix what came before. And only once we have released that balloon to fly off in the sky, will we actually truly understand the weight and burden it had been to carry.





Comments

  1. I remember you clearly at school Carrie, you were beautiful, had the best pair of legs, swam for the wrong sports house (hahahah - Buxton has my love) but you were fiercely independent, strong willed, smart and someone that i will never forget! You were judged unfairly - by insecure people and it brings tears to my eyes to see how strong you are and hard you have fought to remain the tough, beautiful, caring, kind and sexy girl! You deserve all the happiness you have xxxx

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