What I learned from “The perks of being a wallflower”


Earlier in the week, while trying to explain the term “Wallflower” to Luke, I came across the movie “The Perks of being a Wallflower”.  I was ecstatic; finally a movie that could describe me and make sense of this dysfunctional brain-to-mouth filter!

This morning Luke and I watched the movie and what I got out of it was completely different from what I expected.  Of all the issues covered in the movie, there are three statements in it that really hit home with me:

Why do nice people choose the wrong people to date?

Is that not an age-old question?  It is one that has certainly been around for as long as parents have had to sit by and watch their children fall in love with the wrong kind of person.  Love is the one thing in humanity which will have a different definition every time the question is asked.  The one true description of love is found in 1 Corinthians 13.  Unfortunately we are only human and it is tough to not allow emotions and memories and baggage to ruin that definition for us and we say “well, if only it was that simple”.  How many times have you, as an outsider, stood by and watch the definition of love being twisted and turned to suit the person in control?  Let’s face it all relationships have a dominant and a submissive.  There is always someone who needs to get more out of it and pulls the strings to his or her heart’s content in order to feel like they are getting a fair deal.  There is always someone who takes a step back in order to keep the peace or simply to make the other person happy, even if it comes at a costly price to themselves.  In an ideal world, it would be a complete 50/50 scenario, but how often does that really happen?

Let’s take a moment to look at how relationships start.  Men are visual creatures while woman are emotional creatures.  Generally speaking, relationships start out with the sugar-coated version of ourselves and there is no denying the fact.  How many second dates do you think there would be in everyone came out on the first date and said all there was to say?

Hi, my name is Suzie and I suffer from paranoid schizophrenic tendencies, but refuse to have myself tested as my denial is my stronger than my conscience.

Hi, my name is Mark and I have severe trust issues and it does not matter how far this relationship goes, I will never trust you.

Would life not have been a lot easier if you could plug into someone’s psyche from the get go and know all there was to know, the good and the bad?  Yes, discovering things about each other as love grows is a beautiful thing, but it would save us from a world of hurt if we could know beforehand that we would be wasting our love on someone who is not prepared to change or not prepared to settle down.  Unfortunately we only start to discover the warnings signs once it is too late and we are already completely and utterly in love.  Or, even worse, the warning signs are there from the get-go, but we choose to ignore them, thinking that we are over sensitive or paranoid or too judgmental.

So why do nice people choose the wrong people to date?  It is something that I have always wondered about.  As mentioned in the past, I am completely in love with love.  Unfortunately, however, I do not understand it.  Is it a matter of fate or life handing you a raw deal when it comes to love?  I don’t think so.  There must be more.  There must be a reason why some people meet the love of their life in middle school and live happily ever after, while someone else goes through four or five marriages to only find happiness at 60.  Why does that happen?

It is because we choose to only accept the love we think we deserve.

Now that is a loaded statement!  In itself, the statement makes it clear that we choose the relationships we are in.  Whoa, stop right there!  Do you mean to tell me that the woman who continually find herself dating an alcoholic or drug addict or wife beater, chooses to be in that situation?  No, you did not intentionally go out looking for someone like that to date, but when you see the warnings lights, you choose to ignore them, thinking that this time around it will be different.

Falling in love is easy, it happens in the blink of an eye.  As mentioned above, the initial sunshine and roses disappears after a while and we see the person’s true colors emerge as we grow on each other.  It is when the true colors emerge that we need to take a step back and decide whether that is really what we want or deserve, and this is the difficult part.  That is the part which takes a lot of character.  The problem comes in when we do not have a clear sense of what we deserve.  The little foxes that hide in the darkest corners of your soul all have different names: insecurity, low self-esteem, confidence issues, to name but a few.  These little foxes emerge and overcome reason, telling you that it’s not as bad as you think or you won’t find someone else who will be willing to accept you and love or it will get better once we have overcome this one bridge or, aghh, the list is endless.  So we stay and hope and dream and pray that we are right and that things will change and that the little voice inside is wrong.

Every time it happens, you fall for the beautiful lies and choose to believe that things will change.  Every time it happens, you put all your hope and dreams into that one little promise: it won’t happen again.  Until next time and the time after that and the time after that.  We think that you are not worthy of more.  We think that this is the best we will ever have.  We think that we have been placed there to make a difference.  So, we choose to accept the love we think we deserve and stick around for more of the same.

On the flip-side of the coin, could it then also be that we choose the fight the love we think we do not deserve?  How else do you explain it when someone is presented with true love and he / she then fights against it, fight to protect and guard themselves?  How else do you explain someone refusing to let down the walls built around their heart in order to let someone in and embrace the warmth of love?  Is it because they feel that they do not deserve that love?

It is one and the same condition if you think about it actually.  One the one hand you have someone who feels like they don’t deserve better and on the other hand you have someone who feels like they don’t deserve as much.  So they stay and try to make it work.  They love and laugh; they scream and fight; they try to make sense of it all and things just spiral more and more out of control until one day…

If you are one of the lucky ones, you wake up one day and you feel dead inside.  You wake and can’t wait to get to work, just to get away.  You dread the end of the day because you need to go home and don’t know what to expect because you are just so tired of fighting.  One day you wake up and you decide you need to get away for a while, just so you can put a temporary end to the escalating pain and suffering.

If you are not one of the lucky ones, you just don’t wake up and there is no time to fix it all.  You don’t wake up because you were killed in a moment of rage and you never have the opportunity to choose differently.  If you are not one of the lucky ones, the little foxes win and you are destroyed as was their intention from the start.

There comes a point when you realize you are not a sad story and that you are more and deserve better

The human nature intrigues me immensely.  It is just fascinating that, caught in one body, you can have a heart telling you one thing and a head telling you something completely different.  The conflicting emotions that inhabit our bodies can become so overwhelming that we just want to run.  Then you run and you run, but it doesn’t matter how far you run or what extent you go to, those feelings and emotions run with you, taunting you.  You think and think until you can’t think no more and still the emotions conflict each other.

When do you know that whether what you are doing is the right thing?  Is it right for you based on past experiences or based on where you want to go? Is it right for you out of selfish reasons or is it right for you because you are growing?

It would have been so much easier if there was a program you could plug your emotions into; a program which could decode the emotions until one true answer remained.  How simple would that be?  We would see a significant reduction in the divorce rate.  We would definitely see more tears of joy and less anguish.  Life would just be better all round.

If only it was that simple right?

Once you get to the point where you realise that you deserve better, you have reached the point where you can start to turn things around.  I personally feel that psychology should be made available free of charge (ya right, if only, I know!) to every person who wishes to enter into a relationship and couples therapy should be a definitely pre-requisite before things become serious.

Decoding the human mind and human heart is something which we will never be able to do.  Even the best psychologist can only base their diagnoses and treatment on what they are being told.  So how do we ever really know someone?  How do we ever really and truly understand?

I guess that is something which remains to be answered.

Fifteen souls plus me

The taxi ride home was a strange one today.

The driver, in a very pensive mood, opted for no music. I didn’t notice at first, but about ten minutes into the ride, it hit me: a deafening, absolute silence.

My seat right at the back gave me a perfect vantage point. Fifteen souls sat around me and I realized this is South Africa. My fellow passengers consisted of white, black and colored (I struggle with this term. It sounds so derogatory. I will have to find another word to use!), male and female, young and old. We are all doing a job, going home from a job, looking for a job.

Fifteen souls each with a soul, each with a mind and a heart.

Each with a wish and prayer, each with a hope and a dream.

Each with despair and regret, each with a pain and a grudge.

Fifteen souls; fifteen stories to be told. Each developing day by day, minute by minute.

Some go home with sorrow, some go with fear. Some go home with joy, some with anticipation.
We all go home.

Our bodies function the same, yet each looks different.

Fifteen mouths, saying the same words, yet no two words sound the same.

Fifteen souls
Fifteen stories
Fifteen backgrounds

It made me realize again: next time you encounter someone, stop and consider what they might be going through before you judge.

We are all only human after all.

Dancing in the rain

Photo: http://www.giftsofmotherhood.blogspot.com

Safe inside, toasty warm, while water pitter-patters on the roof… describe your perfect, rainy afternoon.

From signing in the rain…
“I’m singing in the rain, just singing in the rain”. As a child I used to love rainy days. Nothing beats the power of a summer thunder storm in the Free State or Highveld. You can see it coming; feel the electricity in the air. Suddenly the sun disappears and you know it’s time. The drum roll starts far off and builds up its crescendo until the rumbling clouds converge overhead, erupting in a deafening roar. We sit with bated breath, anxiously waiting for the lighting to strike. We made a game of it: who will spot it first?! The downpour begins and it’s time for fried apple and cinnamon pancakes with sweet, milky tea. Yum!!! It never lasted very long and soon we would be playing in the sun again. Birds appear, shaking dry their feathers; rain drops compete to see which can defy gravity for the longest, precariously dangling from spider webs. After such storms we would go into the garden to pick up fruit or vegetables which were knocked off by hail. There was a spot right at the back of the garden, behind the garage, where we would play. The clay-like soil was perfect for mud cakes and clay animals. I really loved those days.

…to crying in the rain….
The move to Cape Town in 2005 signalled a huge turnaround in my life. Not only had my sister just passed away, but it was also the beginning of the end in other regards. Unfortunately my love for rain remained in the Highveld. I love sunshine and, to me, rain was always followed by sunshine. Summer rains is the way it’s supposed to be. I thrive on sunshine, even if it is the bleak winter sun of the Free State struggling to break the grip of the cold; slowly melting away at the iced over taps. Cape Town of course is a horse of a different colour altogether. Winter rain – urgh! Cold and wet just does not work for me. The beautiful Cape sees very little sun during the winter months. Everything is dark and grey and wet and it just depresses me. I hate being cold, but being cold and wet. URGH!!!!!!!!!!! Have I mentioned that I don’t enjoy winter in Cape Town? Sorry, I have. Luckily we have fantastic wine farms and luckily I have learned to enjoy a glass of good red from time to time.

Rain is to a forest what tears are to the soul. It cleanses and washes away anything that shouldn’t be there. Have you noticed how crisp and clean everything looks after a good storm? The greens are greener and everything sparkles. “I’ll do my crying in the rain” is a song which I’ve come to love. Rain is the perfect disguise for crying. Just suit up and take a long walk. Let it all out, no-one could possibly know. It’s a triple-whammy: you get a good work out (the more emotional you get the faster you walk), you get to wash clean your spirit with tears, and no one can see the awful expression as tears stream down your cheeks.

…to learning to dance in the rain!
On Friday I made the startling realization that I have, sort of, come full circle and is once again ready to start enjoying the rain. “Instead of waiting for the storm to pass, learn to dance in the rain” – I just love this quote. It is pretty much one of the principles I live by. Sitting on the side-line, waiting for a storm to pass is the easy thing to do. Take charge of the situation and dance in the rain. More often than not you’ll find a solution faster and feel better about the situation overall. So let the winter bring on its unforgiving rain that falls down softly with no rumble or lightning. I am ready to listen at the patter once more, ready to draw circles in the foggy windows and jump over the puddles.

Right now, it’s a very rare sunny winter’s day in the beautiful Cape so we are off for a walk on the beach to soak up every last ray of sunshine.
How do you spend your rainy days?