EVERYTHING’S IN ORDER IN A BLACK HOLE

Alternatively: What to do when the level of shit that things are is too. damn. high.
(Edit: Alternatively, alternatively: A letter to a Shalom at rock bottom from a pseudo-Shalom who has some strange foresight.)

Hello gang. The alternative title of this post is an accurate view into my life for the last year or so, as you’ll know if you do even the tiniest bit of scrolling down my homepage. I’m a bit done with complaining about how much everything sucks for me on here, so here’s a little guide about how to deal with dealing with everything that sucks. What the hap is fuckening?

I’d like to start off by saying that every time I think I have hit rock bottom, there seems to be a deeper hole to fall into. At present, my room is a warzone: I climbed over a sleeping bag, vision board, laundry basket and pile of books to get to my computer. My body is the same, and my brain is…lukewarm. So to begin, understand that sometimes you can get lower than rock bottom. It sucks, and it happens, and you’ll live through it.

At rock bottom, it’s important not to get comfortable. (This whole post is sort of me yelling these things at myself, more than anything else.) As awful as it is to be on the jagged edge that is unemployment and really fast weight gain and very real isolation, I’ve found that I’ve made a sort of nest down here. It panics me because I feel like I’ll never be on top of things again, and that is a terrifying thing. So, force yourself out of the nest. Go outside three times a week, even when you have absolutely no reason to go outside. Text that friend who you’re friends with but you’re not sure if they’re friends with you. See how that goes. Run errands and check things off a list. Kick yourself into remembering that you can do things, and then do them.

Take care of your brain and body. Again, I come to you as a girl who has eaten french fries, ice cream, and salt and vinegar chips today, so I’m talking to myself. I pulled my head out of my ass and re-started taking the medication that helped me previously. Why did you stop, Shalom? Well, disembodied space voice, I don’t know. I thought I was getting better (which I was because the medication was working) and then I stopped taking it after my last refill (and stopped getting better). Go to the doctor if you feel unlike yourself. If rock bottom makes you want to jump off the ledge, go to the doctor. Suicidal ideation is a medical emergency. I am feeling better than I have done in the last couple of months. I’m glad and grateful. Take care of all of your health, starting with your head. Re body health, don’t fall into only ice cream and salt and vinegar chips five times a day every day. If you do, slow it down. (SHALOM, SLOW IT DOWN.) Are you healthy? Is the amount of gross stuff you’re putting in your body making you feel gross? Are you not putting enough food into your body in a quest for some version of health that…isn’t actually health? Take care. Friends, take care. Food is fuel, and it is necessary, and it is FINE. It’s really all absolutely fine. Stretch. Rest. Shower. Drink more water. Take care.

If, like me, you’ve been lacking routine due to monumental failures and your apparent unemployability, start doing something every day. It can be putting a glass of water by your bedside, or frying an egg, or doing calf raises while you brush your teeth, or spending five minutes outside, or writing down your feelings, or reading your respective holy book, or cleaning up a little bit of your space every day. Say yes to something you haven’t before. Do something. Remember that despite how much you feel like you are on the fringes of life, society, and sometimes sanity, you are here. You are here. You are here, and despite the madness, you can do things every day.

Understand your loneliness. I’ve been isolated from the few friends I made at uni last year because I didn’t go back to uni at the start of this year. My then-best friend moved across the ocean, and was no longer my best friend. The people who I thought I was growing with moved on as well, and stopped talking to me. My messages went unanswered, and sometimes all I got was a really patronising, “we’ve grown apart,” or “these things happen”. Understand that you are not alone because you are unlovable. You are not alone because everyone hates you. You are not alone. (The internet is an awesome place, and even if your friends are 15 000 km from you, they are your friends.) Even on your own, you are not alone. Even by yourself, you are something else.

What else? Words from the death to stock photo pack that today’s featured image comes from: Move toward the light. Build. Improve. Find good. Understand that rock bottom must end. Understand that even the hole through the hole through the floor that you fell through has a bottom. Understand that your tummy can change from chiseled to very, very soft in a few months. Understand that your body is still good. Understand that you are still good. You are still loved. You are still worthy.

love and light,
shalom xo

love is out there | 2016

i spent the post shower hour (that weird space where you’re clean and naked and have more than enough time to think) watching the google zeitgeists from 2016 all the way back to 2010 & had a good cry. more than the average 5’8 girl, I am ready for 2016 to end. i am ready to be done. so, gang; a look back.

in 2016 we were made aware of how cruel time can be. we saw wars go ignored, we lost heroes, we witnessed bigotry on a 1945 scale, and tweeted for peace in berlin, baltimore, aleppo, lebanon, and so many more because we couldnt pray faster than our thumbs move.

2016 decimated my morale. 2016 completely broke my heart time and time again, and gave me no chance to put it back together before it crushed me again. 2016 & it’s robber friends ended up stealing 18 000 rands (!!!eighteen!!!) worth of stuff from me – not to mention my health: i came down with my 6th & worst case of malaria on christmas day and i’m trying to get my body to repair itself. i have beem exhausted from the fight against sexual violence & the fight for human rights every single day. i have sang and shouted and cried that black lives matter. i have put all i have to put on the line for equality. i have hit, and 2016 hit back. it’s been a trying year.

“And it has been
one hell
of a year.
I have worn
the seasons
under my sleeves,
on my thighs,
running down my cheeks.
This is what
surviving
looks like, my dear.”

– Michelle K., It Has Been One Hell of a Year.

despite this all, hope has prevailed in the strangest way. i wouldn’t say that 2016 was a fiery beacon of hope that restored all of us, but i think it ,forced us to hope simply because of how dark it became. 2016 was an incredible year for music, and an amazingly powerful year for the arts. (suicide squad was trash. don’t @ me.)

in 2016, i must have tumbled out of a plane, because i freefell all year (walk the moon, quesadilla). i went on some pretty cool dates. starbucks came to south africa! i went to university in a weird fluke of events and met incredible people who turned my world upside down every which way (thanks ashvini). i had a lot of arguments that tested my character & my faith, learned from the coolest philosophy lecturers to ever exist (shout out to shaun stanley & philosophy of religion [but no shout outs to st. anselm who confused the hell (heaven?) out of me]), hosted students who changed my life (bekah, cid & laura – thank you so much for everything), got into trouble for standing my ground on some ‘controversial’ issues (they’re not controversial so much as they are issues of human rights but anyway) and felt so proud of myself for not betraying my heart.

i introduced SO MANY people to Hamilton: An American Musical (maybe the best thing since november 2015), bought okayshalom.com, ran from police officers & rubber bullets, took being party mom to a new level by ubering people everywhere on my own account, realised when i’m being manipulated  (and as such, no longer uber people everywhere), i touched the atlantic ocean,  i told people i loved them, I got a new nickname (it’s panda, thanks phil), and i loved. this year, i loved so much.

i spent 2016 mostly crying over the astounding amount of hurt that there is in the world – over hate crimes and a lack of humanity, the cruelty of death and heartbreak and the terror of tomorrow.

reasonably speaking, 2017 won’t change much. the world will not stop freaking out because we changed the last digit of the year. bad people will not all stop being bad. those who crush hearts without remorse will continue to have stained hands. it’s a pity that a new year doesn’t provide a fix, but it is a joy that our being part of it does provide love.

over and above anything, commit to love. do not betray your heart. keep your word. believe in people.

believing in people has an unprecedented power. love is out there, somewhere, and joy comes in the morning. search for it. if you can’t find it, make it. celebrate every tiny victory. every one.

i hope the holidays have been peaceful for you. i hope that if you’re waiting for admissions decisions, like me, you’re a little bit calmer than i am. i hope you believe in people, in yourself, in hope, dreams, and love. keep your head up & your heart strong.

thanks for coming along with me this year. let’s grow.

love and light,
shalom xo

a letter to my thighs | honest letters #2

Dear left thigh and right thigh,

You two have been kept apart for so long, and I know that now that you spend every waking (and sleeping) hour touching each other, you’re a little uncomfortable. Let me tell you, I’m pretty bloody uncomfortable myself.

I know you resent the lack of the comfy distance between you two. That elusive thigh gap that made you two stay away from each other and made me “skinny” is gone, and my two hands can no longer perfectly fit around one of you. I know that it sucks and I know that it’s partially my fault for spending 30% of my allowance on food before the month even starts. I get it! But I’m not sorry. I’ve been working out, like, loads. Okay. Not loads. Enough. I go to Wits! Everything is a fricken 15 minute walk from everything. I literally make sure that you get exercise every day because we all walk home together. See?

I know that this isn’t satisfying, and that you’d still like to know why you’re stuck together, and the reason is this: estrogen.

Niiiice, Shalom, blame it on the hormones blah blah blah. I am blaming it on the hormones! It’s their fault! I’m sorry for not consulting with you before I started this birth control, but it was a bit of a split-second-try-to-save-yourself-from-your-body-that-may-be-trying-to-kill-you decision. Hormone regulation isn’t fun. Trust me, I didn’t sacrifice your personal space because hoe is life. Though, if I did, you’d have to shut up and deal. I appreciate that.

I know that you hate the fact that I have to have to unstick you guys and that all the god forsaken chafing is driving you up the wall, but I want you to know that I love you. I mean, maybe I don’t yet, but I’m really trying to.

We’ve been through a lot together. You’ve literally held me up for eighteen and a half years and I’m really grateful for you leg-parts. We’ve made it through ballet and eating disorders and sports politics and running from robbers with guns and dancing on people at parties. This is a change, and maybe you’re making me buy new pants for the first time in six years, but I’m gonna stick this out with you.

Thanks for being part of me.

love and light,
shalom xo

New Year

It’s almost midnight, and I am reporting live from my bed thanks to an obnoxiously strong wifi connection. Did you know that wifi stands for wireless fidelity? I learned that in 10th grade.

I just made my lunch for tomorrow – read: I just put all leftovers from last week into a container to microwave at school tomorrow because I am done spending money the way I have been because I am broke – and I’m thinking about how this week could go.

I was at home for New Year’s Eve for the first time in more than 10 years this year (last year?) We usually go to a church service (which I have mostly always objected to because FRIENDS. HELLO MOM MY CHURCH FRIENDS ARE NOT EVEN HERE.) but there was some tension and strangeness, so I got to watch Guardians of the Galaxy and Home with my sisters, and then climb up to our rooftop to watch the fireworks.

I listened to this song on repeat for many reasons: (1) It was so perfect. So cliche. Living the dream. (2) I love Layla. Mostly because I can sing most of her songs well. And because her lyrics make me remember things I thought I couldn’t. (3) It gave me a lot of hope, and said what I needed to hear.

The sentence, “Yeah, you’re gonna be somebody” is repeated fourteen times in the song. At the beginning of 2016, I wanted nothing more than that reassurance. I was waiting on Canadian universities to give me a chance, and for my father to do the same. I was ready to go and be somebody across the ocean. I was so deeply in love, and I couldn’t shake myself from wanting to be somebody the exact way I thought I would be.

Fast forward to May 2016, and we see that I am heartbroken. The Canadian universities did give me the chance I wanted. I got in. I did my part. My dad didn’t. He flaked at the last minute, and I am somewhat stuck in a law degree for at least the next three years of my life at my current university. I cried a lot. (Thank you, UBC. It means a lot that you wanted me.)

The year so far really has been an understanding of what there is to lose. I’ve lost lots. Not nearly as much as I could have lost, for which I’m eternally grateful, but still lots. I’m still struggling to come to terms with the fact that things can go tits up no matter how hard you work. Beyonce was right.

lose.gif

It’s not the first day of a new year anymore, but I am still feeling broken (if not more) and I still want the same: I want to be somebody. I want to make something, leave something, be something. Having anxiety over leaving a legacy and creating that very legacy is a spectacularly painful and exhausting chunk of my psyche.

All this aside, I have an audition tomorrow. (Today?) It’s for a community theatre group. I’m nervous out of my mind. I don’t know what that has to do with anything about me being somebody, but I hope it makes my head a little less foggy. I don’t know. Perhaps this week will be more reflective than I’d thought it would. In all honesty, I should go to bed and stop researching portable chargers and earphones to buy online. It’s after midnight and I’ve got to be out of the house before 6 AM.

hi lovers lost behind us
hi lessons we failed to learn
hi those that tried to mould us
and tried to change us for the worse

can’t flee from bygones
no shaking off the truth
just a first understanding
of what we have to lose

you can’t cover over holes
you can’t burrow deeper down
yeah, you’re gonna be somebody

to being somebody.

love and light,
shalom xo


featured image from my-sweet-love-addiction.tumblr.com

A Tribute

This is a tribute.

A tribute to every single human being in the universe, everybody who has ever experienced death, a tribute to anyone who has ever breathed his or her last, a tribute to a person who is alive.

This is a tribute to Ndaba Ndlovu, the little boy who was killed by his mother when I was in grade 6. A tribute to Jake Kritzinger who left us on August 1st last year. To Jennifer Fields, the six year old daughter of my science teacher who went into cardiac arrest. To Mekyla Viviers who took her life on June 21st 2011.

This is a tribute to my mom, who has seen incredible pain. A tribute to Muadi Ilung for passionately blow drying her hair every day. A tribute to Jessica Craven for shamelessly loving science. To the two people Russia who visited my blog. To Tanya Meyer, for finding herself. To Meghan Duran and Jessica Baylis for living with me. To Allison Beachy for running four miles last week.To Phoenix Falconer for making a video with me on grade eight camp. To Taynita Harilal for not being captain, but for being Tay.

In my year and +- four days of blogging, I have found out some extraordinary things. I’ve found out that the darkest days have light in them. I’ve found out that life can end without anyone’s permission. I’ve found out that getting up is sometimes he only way to stop dying. I’ve found out that some pain doesn’t go away.

Penultimately*,I have come to this conclusion:

As people, we are constantly moving. In and out of this world, through phases, to bigger and better things – we move. Always. Tanya Meyer once delivered a speech that began: “We live, we die, and in between there is time.” And friends, that’s the biggest deal. There is time. If you’re reading this, the chances of you having the same life experience as a six year old that were cut ridiculously short are slim. But you have had your own. We don;t all get the same amount of time here on this planet, but we do have a little. A lot can happen in a year. A lot can change. Suddenly, your best friend isn’t so close to you anymore, and suddenly,some people have been dating for two years, and suddenly, you move schools, and suddenly, you gain weight. The beauty of this lies in the time it takes, whether, in hindsight,  it is considered to be wasted or not. There is life, there is time, there is hope, there is death, there is love,there is light. There is.

Am I sure? Hell no. I am sure, however,that this year of blogging has helped me to believe in what I say more. Thank you for being here, and well done for living. Here’s to another year.

All my love, Shalom xxx


* credit goes to Jessica Craven for teaching me how to use the word penultimate properly, even though it was a conversation about who the head pimp was.