Ayshah | Victoria

Living my Passion | Living with Purpose | Living in Peace


Leave a comment

The Monsters Among Us

The problem with the Bill Cosby allegations is that people assume that you cannot be two people at the same time. But you can.

Just because he is perceived to be a family man does not mean he cannot be a monster. You can be both. Men (and women) have been both for centuries. It is a mistake to think that all people are usually who they present themselves to be in public.

Before the quaalude and rape allegations, all you would hear in reference to Bill Cosby was “America’s TV Dad ….” or “ …The Cosby Show”. Firstly, let’s remember that Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable is not a real person, he was a character, played by the actor, Bill Cosby.

Yes, I too “grew up with The Cosbys” – but so what? It was a show. Granted, a show that has its place in history when it come to altering the images of what a successful American family can look like, which was a big deal – not just in America but around the world for people like myself. But these were actors and as with all the other shows which have taken place over the years, scandals existed. Why? Because society gets excited when the humanity of their TV idols gets exposed. Tabloid fodder, we say. But is it?

The argument stands that if you choose to live your life in the spotlight, you have to expect your every move to be scrutinized. It goes with the territory. However does that mean that actors and other entertainers are expected to have higher values? Be better people? If our preachers, pastors and other leaders of religious organizations and cults around the world have difficulty adhering to values implicitly indicative of their chosen profession, why, pray tell, are we surprised when we hear about the same issues with actors?

It is a mistake to think that great men who abuse women cannot also be upstanding citizens. They can be both. And they are. It’s that simple.

If a man or woman is skilled at disguising the parts of his or her character that is less than attractive, while simultaneously convincing people that it cannot possibly exist, then they will. And they do. Society gives them the space to do so. The veneer of superficiality is one such space.

bill-cosby

You CAN be successful in your chosen profession, hold a position that connotes deep values and trust AND be a rapist. It happens all cross this country – and the world.

It is a mistake to assume that the monsters among us look like monsters. There is a saying that the greatest trick the devil played on humanity was to convince people that he doesn’t exist. Personally, I refuse to recognize the existence of the ideal personification of evil. I see evil as something that exists in humanity as a whole. Evil is the essence used to breed and feed the monsters within.

SO taking this saying a step further, I say that the greatest trick that evildoers among us play is allowing us to believe that evil looks a certain way. For centuries, throughout literature, the villains have been described as hideous creatures. When moving pictures arrived, we saw the cloaked villain, the hunchbacked villain and pimpled witches stirring cauldrons…. We are raised with the notion that the hero is handsome and pleasing to the eye and the villain is unattractive and miserable. Today we are STILL surprised when the campus serial rapist looks like a superhero or when the mass-murderer turns out to be someone’s sweet grandmother.

These misconceptions help these monsters manipulate the more malleable among us into believing that they have values that they actually don’t – and by doing so, gain their trust.

I am sure that my learned psychologists may want to interject that I may be referring to sociopathic behavior – but I am not. We know that sociopaths can become leaders of the free world, worshipped and supported by the gullible and naive. Most people also know the difference between psychopaths and sociopaths by now and if not – there’s Google et al. for that.

As you may know, not all sexual predators are sociopaths. I am talking about the monsters among us who are able to somewhat stray from the typical sociopathic diagnoses because, let’s face it – and this is the difficult thing – they DO have the same feelings as everyone else. They DO care for and about people. They love, they hurt, they help, they heal, they carry out philanthropic activities. They are great fathers, brothers and mothers who have weaknesses like all human beings.

BUT – this is the thing I want to make clear. This is the thing I want to make sure you get from this mini-rant. They also know they have weaknesses and they choose to feed those weaknesses and  breed them into monsters that they nurture, groom and feed. They are able to allow these monsters to exist in tandem with their “public” persona.

These people are our leaders, teachers, preachers, neighbors and yes, the hardest to acknowledge – our loved ones. And THAT is the reality that I don’t think we want to see.

And let me make it clear, in case there is any confusion, I am not a supported of Bill Cosby. As a woman whose life has had enough familiarity with abuse, I can recognize the characteristics of a sexual abuser in this man. I have no problem saying so. I also know what it is like to “not come forward”. Rape survivors, like domestic abuse victims are often misunderstood by those who have not walked in their (our) shoes.

But for those who have walked in our shoes, however often – or however briefly, you get it. You know those feeling of shame, and self-doubt and self-blame and shock and terror all rolled into a ball that gnaws your insides for years. You know what it is like to wish it never happened and wish you could forget it. You know what it is like to have any future relationship affected in some way or another by it. You know what it’s like to recognize the abuser’s expressions or voice or gait or mannerisms or tone, etc. in people you meet and even in those you fall in love with. Sexual abuse has a complicated and often, in my opinion, underestimated long-term effect on us. It can cause behaviors that may be opposite to what is expected from a victim of abuse.

So back to Bill Cosby. I never knew why the story irritated me until today when it suddenly hit me hard. What irritated me was that people found it such a shock. Then I realized why they did. People cannot seem to accept that we have monsters among us. It doesn’t matter how many versions of Little Red Riding Hood we read about. There is an overwhelming denial that there are as many monsters among us as they really are.

There are 2 primary ways that some (yes, only some) monsters are uncovered:

  1. Their egos obscure their fallibility: After a while, they believe that they are cleverer than other people – and they may be. But it just takes one determined person to expose their fallibility.
  2. They do not refine their modus operandi: When a method has delivered results over and over again why change it? This is the wrong mindset for the antics of said monsters. They forget that the world is changing around them and that they themselves are changing . Therefore a well-worn path that may have previously hidden their abusive behavior can get unearthed if these changes are not accounted for.

Consequently, there needs to be more ways for these monsters to be uncovered with more frequency – and sooner. This starts with survivors and victims alike understanding that their voices matter – and having the support needed to overcome the fear that they may not be believed. Contrary to what we may see on TV- there are many effective people in private and public organizations and law enforcement agencies working day and night to uncover these monsters – but their work would be much easier and have a deeper more lasting impact if we can report abuse without of fear what people will think or whether people will believe us. Even if the abuse is by a beloved, well-respected uncle.

For the record, those who lie about being abused for whatever reason, are just as vile in my opinion because they are muddying the work of those who are there to help the real victims. It makes the work more difficult for prosecutors who are trying to get the predators away from the public and save the next victim – who could be anyone’s teenage daughter, mother, sister or infant son.

I’ll finish with this – the more society drops superficial labels and places more value on authenticity and self-awareness, the less likely these monsters will find the space to feed, breed and pollute us with their cankerous sickness.

 


Leave a comment

A Father’s Love

The first time I fell in love was the day my baby sister was born – round the corner from London’s Harley Street on a chilly February day. I was 10 years old and it was a few months before I started my 7-year stint at an all-girls boarding school on the coast.

Of course I wasn’t there at the actual birth. I was staying with my aunt – who was really a second cousin. We called her “Auntie” out of respect since she was closer to my mother’s age.

My father was at the clinic and when he called my aunt to tell us the good news, I remember asking him a specific question – “what is she like?”

My father was a man of few words and even fewer emotions – very much the hard-working disciplinarian. A civil-servant, dedicated to his craft of diplomacy and foreign policy. I never heard anyone call him by his first name. Not even my mother, who called him “dear” or “darling” around us. To others, he was either Your Excellency (when spoken to) or The Ambassador (when referred to).

Back in the 1970s, after school and before dinner time, my siblings and I had a few hours of freedom when we could run around the garden and play freely or maybe watch some Scooby-Doo. But the moment we heard Daddy’s car at the gate, everyone was at full attention. Everything had to be in place. Everybody too – even the grown-ups.

Dinner had to be ready and the dining table set – in case he was hungry; the house had to be tidy; the children had to be quiet and well behaved – seen and not heard. In fact there was a ritual for me. I  had to be on hand in case Daddy needed to send me to do something for him – like bring him a glass of water. The glass of water could never be brought to Daddy by hand. It had to be brought to him on a tray – and handed over with my right hand and never my left – a cultural thing. As it happened, I was left-handed so remembering not to use my left hand was quite a task.

Incidentally, my father had been left-handed as a child which was frowned upon so as a child, he was forced to learn to write with his right hand. Fortunately, this never happened to me.

I remember one particular day when I had been summoned to get a glass of cold water for my father. I was rather under the weather that day but I had managed to find the right glass, fill it to the appropriate level (about half an inch from the top), and place it on a tray. I walked over to serve my father his glass of water. He sat in his armchair, his face buried in the newspaper.  The needle on the record player scratched out some happy Doris Day  tune as I concentrating on the task of not spilling a drop of water. When I was right in front of my father, I gingerly removed the glass from the tray with my left hand and extended the glass to him. I was completely oblivious to my faux-pas until I became aware of the weight of the glass still in my hand and looked across at my father’s face.

He was staring at me with a strange expression. The newspaper hadn’t moved and he didn’t say a word – just kept staring at me. I was perplexed. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I looked at the glass – it looked fine. I thought I was using the right hand – but confusion was now filling my mind. I felt my heart racing and had no idea what to do next. Doris was telling me que sera sera 

Before I knew it, my mother had swooped in, taken the glass from me (with her right hand of course) and handed it to my father. He didn’t take it immediately but eventually did. My mother said something about me not feeling too well and ushered me upstairs to lie down. I fled.

My father was not someone whom I associated with the word love. However, I didn’t feel I was lacking in being loved. I didn’t know any different. I assumed all fathers behaved the same way with their children. Maybe it was because my mother somehow made up for it. She never spoil us though, and she certainly disciplined us when we misbehaved, but I knew she loved me. She showed it in many ways – and I felt it. Neither of my parents grew up in homes where people said “I love you”. It simply wasn’t done.

My baby sister was my mother’s fifth and last child and was delivered by cesarean section. It was a rough pregnancy for her – especially since she was almost 40 and at a time when women were rarely having babies that “late” in life. There was a 5-year gap between my younger brother and my new baby sister and I was very excited about this baby.

I was 4 years old when my brother was born and I really wanted to carry him and walk around with him and hold him close to me the way I saw my mother and aunts doing – but I wasn’t allowed to. My mother said I was too little and had to wait until I was at least “as tall as her shoulder”. Of course, by the time I was that tall, my brother was no longer a baby – and he wouldn’t have let me carry and cuddle him even if I wanted to!

So now here I was at the “mature” age of 10, feeling like a grown up. I was old enough to hold a baby and I simply couldn’t wait to hold the baby that was coming. We didn’t know yet if it was a boy or a girl.

On that February morning, I was extremely excited and could barely contain myself. I kept asking my aunt to call the doctor to find out about the baby and she kept telling me that we would have to wait for the call. When the call finally came, my aunt spoke for quite a while on the phone. I didn’t have an iota of patience so I kept tugging at the chord of the receiver squeaking – “is it a boy or a girl? Is it a boy or a girl?” Eventually, with a smile on her face, my aunt said “It’s a girl!” Then she passed the phone to me.

For some reason, I was expecting to hear my mother’s voice – but instead, I got my father on the phone. So I said the only thing I could think of – “Good Afternoon, Daddy – what is she like?” 

He was quiet for a while and I didn’t know if I had said something wrong. My mind was racing. Didn’t I greet him correctly? Had I been rude? What was wrong? A moment or two passed. Then in a voice that I didn’t recognize, in a soft tone, overflowing with emotion, he said “she is… beautiful…”

In that moment, in that very moment, I understood so much. In that moment, I understood that my father had feelings and that he could love. In that moment, we were connected. In that moment, without even seeing her, I had already fallen in love with my baby sister!

I was never able to have children of my own – but over the years, I have come to realize that from the moment my sister was born, my maternal instincts were born too and  I have always held her in my heart in a way that a mother would. Not by choice, but my instinct. And though my father is no longer with us, I will always cherish the moment I realized for the first time, that he must have loved me too.


Thanks for reading! Please feel free to comment below or share this post. You can also follow me on twitter: @StrategicPowers


Leave a comment

Who The **** Are “THEY”?

The other day I was listening to a lovely lady in her late twenties who was in an animated, high-pitched frenzy over an episode in her life. She was extremely conflicted about how certain people were reacting to her decision to make a huge career change.

Before she could launch into her next angst-ridden tirade about what “they” think about this and what if “they” saw that, I asked her – “Who the **** are “they”?

She paused and blinked at me several times. I wasn’t sure if it was because the question surprised her or because I used a four-letter word.

“Weeell….? “ I prompted

Her forehead creased (no botox here…) as she pondered the question.

Before she could continue, I told her that it really didn’t matter who “they” were. And more significantly, what “they” think about her.  Of course, to properly comprehend that this did not mean she would have to disregard the opinions and preferences of those she cared about, I had to explain the difference between the opinions that truly mattered and those that really didn’t. It turned out that there were far too many opinions that she was concerned with and it was impeding on her ability to successfully attain her goal.  (Her Best Is Good Enough – but she doesn’t know it – yet.)

We like to think that we are in full control of our lives, the decisions we make and the direction we go. The truth is that  we are a lot more affected by public opinion than we would readily admit. What “they” think matters – much more than it should and there are many who feel they have to base every single decision on what “they” think.

This  can happen to anyone who is part of a community, a group, an organization or any social structure. The trick is to recognize the effect of the external influence WHILE  it is happening and counteract* any adverse effects it may have on your decision-making. To do this, you must first identify the source of the influence.

The Good Ones
Many of our friends, family and associates may share their opinions about our lives because they care and because they want what is best for us. It’s natural. But sometimes, we allow their opinions – and as I like to put it, their “preferences” for our lives to confuse our decision-making.  We shift from thinking “this is what I want to do” to “this is what I should do” or “this is what X would like me to do”.  It then becomes difficult to know where to place the emphasis in our thought-process..

For this, I offer one simple solution; listen to their opinions because you care about them and/or because you respect them. Listening does not mean agreeing. It is a foolish person who chooses not to listen to opinions or advice from people they respect, love or admire. However it is up to you to act on their advice. You can choose to do what you feel is best for you – at this precise point in your life. The consequences, good or bad are entirely yours!

The Bad Ones (aka “Haters”)
Any relatively successful person will tell you that you do not achieve your goals – especially the loftier ones, without your share of land mines. Of course there are the natural challenges that will occur along the path to success since nothing worth achieving comes  easily.  But when it comes to people around us, these land mines can come in the form of discouraging remarks designed to put you off your goal. They come from the kind of people who would experience a secret moment of glee if you fail to achieve what you are setting out to do.

They usually fit into one of these 2 categories:

  1. People you know who have already achieved what you are trying to achieve  – but would prefer it if you don’t (the not-enough-space-at-the-top syndrome)
  2. People who do not have the ability, strength or perseverance to achieve what you are trying to achieve and don’t want you to succeed as they feel it would amplify their own inabilities. Unfortunately this thought-process comes from their own self-doubt and insecurities and instead of choosing to rid themselves of such negative feeling, they prefer to infect others with it.

Harsh – but you know it’s true. Now many people in the two categories above tend to keep their negative feelings to themselves and if they are people within your circles,  they will appear supportive outwardly – but will make little comments here and there to dissuade you privately. Some may even speak unkindly about you to others – and if you are aware of this, I challenge you to drop them completely from your schedule (aka life). What’s the point in having a relationship with those who wish you harm?  Of course this method of cleansing and revitalization is not for everyone –  only those that can handle it*.

So who indeed are “THEY”?  They are a combination of the above.  By now you already know who they are – in your world.  Before you go out on a rampage, remember that these people are in your life for a reason. You alone choose how important you allow their voice to be in your head.

You  have to live your life knowing that there will always be others who do not want you to succeed and discourage you at every turn. There will also always be those that take steps to make things difficult for you. HOWEVER the sooner they know that  you do not base your decisions on their opinions,  the good ones will back down.  The bad ones – THEY  will find another person to plague with self-doubt. But certainly not you!

*For more about (A) counteracting the negative effects of opinions that have been shared with you or  (B) for cleansing and revitalizing your circles, ask me!

lions
Follow me on twitter: @StrategicPowers