Monthly Archives: August 2013

Almost Aborted

pregnant

When one of my cousins was twenty years old, she got pregnant. She wasn’t married at the time and she hadn’t introduced any particular guy to her family, so it came as a shock to everyone. Her mom was the one who was most affected; her daughter’s situation would subject her to people’s ridicule. She wasn’t prepared to go through all that; so she asked her to get an abortion.

My cousin was distraught; she was not prepared to have her baby aborted. She refused. When the row was going on, one of our cousins, who she was closest to, found out and started telling everyone. She turned her back against her too, disregarding the tight relationship they had before the ‘tiny one’ came into the picture. Before long, everyone in the family knew my cousin was pregnant. It was a difficult time for her; everyone turned against her. They felt she had committed a grave mistake. Some relatives rejoiced; not for good reasons though, but because the girl everyone considered holy had been knocked up by someone no one in the family had been formally introduced to.

Naturally, my sisters and I aren’t so close to her because she-like the rest of the family-always snubs us; we don’t fit in her social circle; I don’t find that an issue anymore-it’s just ludicrous (I fail to comprehend how people could put so much importance on material possessions). After everyone got wind of her undesirable situation, she was alienated, without a single person she could count on. Even the cousins she ganged up with to make our lives impossible ditched her. If they weren’t dissing her, speculating who her baby daddy was and all, they were celebrating her ‘misfortune’. She was all alone.

The situation felt especially difficult for her because she was a girl with a quiet demeanor, while her mom’s the kind of woman who criticizes others easily. My aunt feared people would unleash their wrath upon her, serving her a dose of her own medicine. She was disturbed. Before it became public knowledge, she had talked to mom about her predicament; she had a solution to obliterate the tragedy, but her daughter was too unwavering to comply. She asked mom to convince my cousin to terminate the pregnancy.

Mom wanted to help, but the idea of an abortion didn’t sit well with her. Instead she had a talk with my cousin, asking her what she wanted. She wanted to keep her baby. Subsequently, mom tried convincing my aunt an abortion wasn’t the solution; my cousin wasn’t willing to go through with it.

That infuriated my aunt. How would she face people? The same people she had always been too quick to judge? Eventually, she kicked my cousin out. We live in the same estate, only in different courts, and luckily mom had gone to see how they were holding up when she was thrown out. We took her in. Funny thing is, we were among the first people to hear it because when my aunt found out she told mom about it, reeling with shock, but we never breathed a word of it; it wasn’t our place to tell; plus we’ve been in that situation-having people make us subject of their scuttlebutt with reckless abandon-too many times to want to inflict the same pain on anyone. I also believe in the golden rule; treating people the way I’d like others to treat me…

When she came home, it was around Christmas. After the fight with her mom, her eyes were red; she had been crying. All we wanted was to make her settle in; no one questioned her about it. She would tell us if she deemed it fit. For the period she stayed with us, none of us brought the issue up, and apparently she didn’t see it right to let us in on it.

We were ignoring a gargantuan elephant in the house; sometimes surprised, we’d be tempted to innocently point out her feet were swollen as it was too obvious or that her face was glowing but then we’d bite our tongues real quick; she hadn’t told us she had a bun in the oven and we didn’t want to offend her. She had too much on her plate; if our willful ‘ignorance’ afforded her some false impression of privacy, we would give her just that.

At some point we wanted to suggest we take her shopping so she could buy some cute dresses because she was always in jeans and over-sized shirts, but we couldn’t. We had do act dumb. It was difficult, but for her peace of mind we refrained from saying or doing anything which would allude to the ‘little’ elephant we were all trying to ignore. I doubt I ever told her, but the thought that she refused to abort even when the whole world seemed to be against her made me admire her greatly.

Opposites Attract

opposites attract

I’ll never understand some things; not because I’m daft, but simply because those are some of nature’s machinations-but I know there’s a scientific explanation to it. Have you ever met two people who are completely different and you wonder how they ended up together?

When my sisters and I were small, my baby sister didn’t understand what was going on between mom and dad; fighting and all… She would constantly ask mom innocently, “Can’t we just look for another dad?” She was too young to comprehend the fact that the two were bound together by holy matrimony; it wasn’t just something mom could fix with the snap of her fingers…but that’s how kids are; they think their parents are super heroes.

She obviously felt dad wasn’t her ideal father, and she felt we would be much happier if mom found us another dad. If only it was that easy. If I had a choice, I would have gladly kicked dad to the curb on mom’s behalf long ago. I fail to understand how she put up with his abuse for so long, but everytime I remind myself, she was brought up in a very religious setting. She was going to join a convent; it was during the early stages of her formation, when she met dad and fell head-over-heels in love with him, plus she was a catechist… and the church preaches strongly against divorce…you know, ‘what God has put together, let no man put asunder’…

That in a nutshell defines my parents; virtuous mom (she’s no saint though) and a phenomenally mean dad (especially when he’s ‘under the influence’), and that is precisely what I don’t understand. They’re so different; completely opposite.

I know more than enough married couples, and there seems to be something common. It’s like nature went out looking for the extreme opposites and put them together to even things out. For instance, there are these family friends we have. We haven’t seen each other for a while since they moved to Australia a few years ago, but their family was a contrast to ours-last I checked.

The mom was the domineering control freak while the husband was so humble. The kids loved the father more. Then I have these four cousins, who have different fathers because their mom cheats on their loyal dad an awful lot. I’m not sure they know it; it’s an open secret.

I just can’t seem to trace any family with two ‘good’ parents. One of mom’s nephews- he’s almost her age- calls her a lot to ask for advice because his wife cheats on him brazenly.  He set up a business for her, lavishes her with gifts… he’s most women’s ideal husband. Lately he’s not been calling, so mom figured she should check up on him because the last time they talked he didn’t feel fine.

She rang him today. Apparently, his two kids-barely teenagers-threw their mom out. They asked her to take some time off to figure out what she wants to do with their father. I’ve never met her honestly, but from the description I get of her, she drinks a lot, doesn’t visit her kids in school, spends nights out, away from home… He, on the other hand is a quiet, laid-back guy.

That got me thinking; those kids wish for a better mom, like my sisters and I were wishing for a better dad. It almost feels obvious, if the wife is good, the husband is the villain of the piece…and if the husband is good, the wife is wicked… Opposites attract, literally; but for what it’s worth, I hope I’m wrong.

Making Choices

making choices

In my recent posts, I have been writing about domestic violence. It’s a topic I rarely delve into, because it takes me back to a past I try so hard to forget; but then some issues can only be ignored for so long. Many people blame their parents or someone close to them for their shortcomings. Personally, I have more than enough things I blame my parents for. Sometimes I feel if it wasn’t for my relatively damaged past, I would be a much happier person than I am today. When I sink into my occasional depressions, I feel my past contributed a lot.

I’m not the only one; I know people who despise the lives they lead because it’s not what they would have chosen under normal circumstances, and were only led to make the choices they made by undesirable state of affairs.

Nonetheless, life doesn’t always have to take the course someone else carved out. The good thing in life is that each one has the right to make their own choices. One doesn’t have to turn out damaged because they met/lived with an equally damaged person.

Studies show that many perpetrators of abuse were themselves abused at one point; dealing with the trauma turned them into abusers. But slowly I’m learning one can lead a totally ‘clean’ life; one that’s not marred by a horrendous past. The one thing which determines the path one takes is their willingness to change. If one desires it, it will happen gradually. It could be difficult at first, but with determination, nothing is impossible.

Miss Independent

miss independent

Ne-yo loves Miss Independent; apparently I love her too. My damaged past has taught me a lesson or two concerning independence. For starters-I don’t mean to step on any toes-but I feel the only reason most men ask their wives to stay home, is so that they can control them. Some cite love and concern, but honestly, I feel there’s more to it than meets the eye. Again, I apologize if my opinion appears skewed. It’s just that the ‘culprits’ I know personally haven’t convinced me otherwise.

My dad for instance; when I was about nine, he asked mom to quit her job; he said he would take care of her. At first mom was reluctant; she wasn’t sure that was what she wanted…but dad could be charming at times; when he’s not fighting he could be really sweet. Mom fell for his charms; she went ahead to hand in her resignation letter.

I have reason to believe those few years she stayed out of work are her worst to date. It’s like by giving up her job, she had also given up her freedom. She was at dad’s mercy. He had the last say in everything, even when it came to basic necessities such as food. If she wanted anything, she would have to consult dad. She had willingly, handed him the reins of power…I don’t fault her really; she trusted him, but apparently he took her for granted.

If mom was alone, things would have been easier I know; but she had three little mouths to feed. Even with the struggle, she had to take care of us. I think it’s at that time when their run-ins intensified because mom wasn’t satisfied with the treatment dad was giving her, and dad wasn’t willing to make it better.

One night dad came home past midnight, drunk. He hadn’t been giving mom any money for replenishing our food supplies. We couldn’t sleep; it was difficult to fall asleep hungry. We stayed up; hoping dad would be kind enough to bring us some fast food. The minutes ticked away, and as the clock struck midnight, we knew this would be one of those nights we went to bed hungry.

Finally he came home, reeking of alcohol and roasted meat. Obviously he was full. Mom asked him why he was being so unfeeling. She was hurt. We hadn’t eaten, and dad was doing that on purpose, because he knew she didn’t have money at the time. Mockingly, he threw money on the table. He didn’t seem bothered by the dejected looks on our faces.

Mom snapped, “You’re giving me money? At this time? What do you want me to do with it? Slice it up in their plates and feed it to them or what?” She was hurt, angry, and frustrated. In his drunkenness dad snapped too and they started fighting. We went to bed ravenous with our eyes red and puffy from all the crying, and our hearts heavy.

The next morning mom used that same money to buy us breakfast. I watched miserably as she struggled to cater to our needs; it was just humiliating. She had to suck up to him so she could get money for whatever she needed. I noticed everytime she needed money, dad wouldn’t give it to her without a fight.

Mom got tired of the vicious cycle and she started looking for a job. But as it turned out, it wasn’t a very simple task. It took longer than she had anticipated and all the while she had to endure his torturous deeds. She contemplated leaving him, but then she figured if she left we would suffer the consequences because he was still the one paying our school fee. So she put up with him, with all the frustration.

Mom, determined to get her life back on track, started her own business with the little money she had been saving up. It was difficult because dad was against it, but she pressed on. It didn’t bring her enough income, so she closed up and continued looking for another job.

It wasn’t until mom found a job that I saw her truly happy. She had gone through so much humiliation; I always opt to block those memories out of my head because they’re just so many and extremely heartbreaking. Sometimes it’s just easier pretending it didn’t happen.

When she went back to work, her fights with dad reduced remarkably; she didn’t need anything from him. She was independent.

A few months ago he was asking her to quit her job; but this time, it was different. He asked her to quit her job so she could take care of him, so that she-in his own words-could serve him. I impenitently laughed in his face. “Seriously?” I asked, then I started laughing again. Honestly it wasn’t funny in a rib-tickling way, but I found it ludicrous. He was clearly offended-that’s what I was hoping to achieve (I hate myself for that, but it’s the least I could do to let him know what I felt. He rarely lets us speak our minds). I doubt mom would ever fall for that again. No one in their right mind would forget the humiliation she went through.

I learned that it doesn’t matter how much one’s partner has; if it’s not mine, then I’d rather do without it. There’s just something about having money that one has worked for; it’s liberating. I love miss independent; the freedom; the peace of mind…

Oh there’s something about

Kinda woman that can do for herself

I look at her and it makes me proud…

 

Damaged

depressed

Ever since I was seven, I’ve been watching my parents fight; I would wish it wasn’t that way but unfortunately it is. One thing I’ve gathered over the years is that parents should settle their ‘beef’ away from the children. If I’m anything to go by, parents should never fight in front of their kids. It’s just destructive; it messes a kid up on so many levels. That’s a vital lesson I’ve learned.

When I was nine-by then I had gotten used to seeing my parents fight; it felt normal- I got caught up in one of my parent’s wrangles. I don’t remember how it started, all I remember is finding myself in my parents’ bedroom; I had heard mom shouting. When I walked into their bedroom, I was horrified to find mom pinned down on the bed beneath dad. He was hurting her.

Instinctively, I rushed in and started pulling on dad’s pants. My hands were tiny at the time, so I just got hold of one leg. Furious, he kicked hard and I staggered a few steps back, falling on my bum. I don’t remember getting hurt; I was reeling from the shock of seeing mom calling for help. That was all my mind could register; mom needed help, and I couldn’t help. So together with my sisters, we started wailing, asking him to let her go.

I don’t remember how long he went on, or when he stopped. The next morning, I was still distraught from watching the scathing scene. I felt like a lifeless zombie as I walked on the school corridors. That day I talked to my class teacher about it. I just couldn’t take it anymore; I had to tell someone. I can’t quite remember what she told me but I remember feeling relieved.

Since then I have witnessed so many similar scenarios, but that one refused to go away completely. It torments me; I guess because it was the first time I saw mom so helpless.

Unconsciously, as I watched them over the years, I started building my defense; even when I didn’t jump in to help I’d start contemplating the best counter attack; if someone said something nasty, the best thing was to lash back. If someone hit, hitting back would happen almost naturally. It all happened in my head and as it turns out I’m really good at visualizing stuff; that’s how I learn most of the practical things.

When I learnt how to belly dance for instance, I just watched my big siz doing it, visualized it when I was in bed at night, the next morning when I got out of bed I just tried moving my hips and voilà, I was doing it like Shakira; it just took a little practice to smooth out the rough edges. That’s how it was as I watched mom and dad fight, hurling expletives at each other; it is those same obscenities I would hurl at other kids whenever I found myself in some altercation. Coming from a kid, the words were X-rated.

Naturally I have a quiet demeanor; most of my extended family only know my calm and composed side, because I always prefer to take the high road even when I feel they’re driving me nuts. The upside is I sleep comfortably at night, without any guilt troubling my conscience…and for that peace of mind, I always opt to walk away from heated scenes. It does get unbearable sometimes and inevitably I lush out, but nowadays such moments are rare.

The longest time I stayed home was after leaving high school. Normally I’d just be home for a few weeks on holidays but at that time, I didn’t have the option of taking a break from all the drama while away in boarding school; I hated life there but it did break the monotony of watching my parents fight. Watching them at it, tempers flaring, constantly brought back the violent side I had tried so hard to bury while in high school. Worse still, as I watched them go on and on about matters I wished they’d deal with out of my sight, I started building my defense again, countering them in my head.

At the time, mom’s regular run-ins with dad also made her snappy; her words were ever clipped and she just felt cold. I wrote a lot at that time, because I realized it felt therapeutic. Sometimes I would just cry it out. I grew tense from all the madness; I didn’t want to say/do anything I would regret, so I held it all in.

I fell into my first bout of depression at that time; I didn’t know what it was then. I just felt miserable; like life had lost its meaning. Everytime they started fighting I would get muscle spasms from all the anxiety. I ended up getting medical treatment for it, after developing an incessant headache and insomnia, which stayed with me for one and a half years.

After recovering, that’s when I realized I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore. If they decided to fight, I would just watch impassively. Going with barely any sleep for close to two years had taught me a tough lesson. I wasn’t going to live their life anymore. That was one of the toughest decision I’ve had to make in my life. I reset my thoughts and focused them on the positive things in my life, and to date, that’s how I deal with it.

My baby siz however, hasn’t mastered the strength to be indifferent; so everytime she hears people-even outsiders-talking with their voices raised, even when they’re not necessarily fighting, she stiffens with fear, her heartbeat rapid. If she’s asleep, she’ll suddenly wake with a violent jerk, perturbed by the noise. I sympathize with her a lot. I don’t like to hold my parents responsible for it, but as much as I hate to admit it, this could have been avoided.

I couldn’t do much to change that part of my life, but I know one thing for sure, I wouldn’t want my kids to go through that…no one should. Parents should remember kids rarely forget; they could block it out, but most of the time the memories haunt them into adulthood. It is damaging. I feel damaged.

I’ve grown up with so much violence around me, I’ve become naturally defensive. Even when I walk away, I do it consciously, fighting all the urge to lash out. Sometimes it is difficult to hold back, especially when it’s a recurrent issue; when one keeps pushing all the wrong buttons because they don’t see me snapping. In such instances I just let it out.

I hate it when I do it, but sometimes it’s just inevitable; one can only take so much. I wouldn’t want to subject anyone to the life I’ve lived, so every day I strive to find the peaceful way out when faced with a challenge. As it is, I feel damaged, but I already resolved to make different choices…to ‘make love’ not war.

My peace-deprived childhood makes me crave serenity so intensely; that’s my ray of hope; that after all, I won’t be extending the emotional turmoil from my past into my future, God willing.

 

Violent…Am I?

parent's fighting

Recently I read an article that highlighted tell-tale signs that one’s partner may have abusive tendencies:

a)      He or she was physically abused or psychologically abused as a child.

b)      He or she has previous involvement with domestic violence.

c)      He or she saw one parent beat or dominate the other

d)      He or she witnessed one or both of their parents abuse alcohol or drugs.

According to the article, it would appear I’m a violent person, but I’m I really? No.

On why I could be a teetotaller, a good friend Jowal posted a very insightful comment; he quoted a story about two brothers who turned out so different from watching their father abuse alcohol; one became a teetotaller because he didn’t want to be like the father whereas the other became an alcoholic, just like the father.  Basically, in life one can’t always choose what they go through, but one has the power to choose what path they take afterwards.

As a child, I was introverted, but I didn’t miss the chance to ‘dig my claws’ into anyone who crossed my path. Students knew I was a walking time bomb, even though I managed to hide behind a façade of equanimity; but I was fine, as long as no one tried to ‘detonate’ me. When I was far from my mom, where I knew she couldn’t intervene, I’d take matters into my own hands; standing up to anyone who dared offend me.

Sometimes I’m tempted to think my mom resulted to have us-my sisters and me- shipped away to boarding school to save us from the daily violent attacks dad put us through when he and alcohol became best buddies. The attacks weren’t really aimed at us, but somehow we got caught in between.

I remember one time, while away in boarding school, I got into a fight with a girl I shared a bunk bed with. It was late at night. The matron on duty came rushing to our dormitory when the other girls started screaming. By the time she walked in, some girls had managed to tear us apart. One big girl had pinned my arms behind my back. As I stood there panting heavily, I took a moment to access the damage I’d made; I realized my adversary had scratches on her face and somehow I’d ripped her night dress from the neckline downwards.

I couldn’t recall doing it; I had done it in a heated moment…incandescent with rage.

The matron matched us to the headmistress’ quarters, but as it was late she asked us to see her in her office early the next day. The following day, during our Friday assembly, we were paraded before the whole school, with the furious headmistress branding us the two bulls of the school. We spent the better part of that day carrying out our punishment.

I wasn’t one of those kids who picked fights with anyone for no apparent reason; whenever I got into fights it was to defend myself or people I loved. For instance, when I got into that fight, it was after stomaching prolonged tension inflicted on me by my bed mate, a girl others feared because no one understood her background.

When clearing from primary school, one of my friends, who was the school’s headgirl at the time signed my leavers book; she added a P/S, requesting me not to start the third world war. I laughed when I read it, but I wasn’t oblivious to what she meant.

When I joined high school, I didn’t like the school at first because my dad had forced me to go there. I spent the whole of my first year contemplating my transfer. My mom was behind me all the way. She didn’t want to see me suffer and she understood I wasn’t comfortable in that school. The situation was even worsened by the fact that I’d gotten off on the wrong foot with the school’s administration; I had my long hair relaxed, which was against school policy. I spent the first term in and out of the principal’s and the guidance counselor’s offices explaining why I wasn’t going to shave my hair as was the required punishment.

The other girls loved my hair; they sympathized with me. Slowly, I came out of the shell I’d retreated into and I realized the school wasn’t that bad. During that period, I also realized I didn’t want to retaliate. If anyone crossed my path I’d just ignore them. I realized it was easier to be indifferent towards them than get myself into more trouble with the administration. My conscience also felt light; I wasn’t tormented by the memory of hurtful stuff I’d said to someone during a heated argument. I enjoyed the tranquility.

The students I went to high school with never got to meet my wild, untamed side. I had realized violence didn’t solve anything; it just aggravated things.

It wasn’t easy to remain graceful under pressure, but I tried. When I went back home I would find myself in the all-too-familiar scene; dad driving everyone up the wall. I would sermon all my strength, restraining the anger burning inside me; sometimes it would work, but at other times I would succumb to my rage. I would speak my mind out; in most cases the words felt like dagger stabs to those on the receiving end; I just didn’t see the need to sugar-coat things.

I knew I had only said what needed to be said; nothing was untrue, but even so, I couldn’t stand the guilt of knowing I had intentionally/unintentionally hurt someone. I learnt to bite my tongue. It was a struggle bottling up all the emotions, which were a combustible mix of raw anger and frustration. I fell sick in the process from all the stress; but I never looked back. I pressed on, determined to change my violent ways. After a few years, I learned to control my temper.

I would attribute my violent outbursts to the fact that I was subjected to so much domestic violence, but I made a choice; to not be like my father. It was difficult, and still is; sometimes I run into people, who get my patience running awfully thin, but I have mastered the art of walking away; nevertheless, dad hasn’t changed; he’s actually more violent than ever, but watching him just strengthens my urge to be a better person. That’s a choice I made. Everyone has a choice to be what they want to be.

What do you seek? Perfection or Holiness?

holy

I was watching the breaking news on CNN, when my phone rang. I looked at the caller ID; it was my mom, and I immediately figured what she wanted to tell me.

“Have you heard?” She jumped straight to the point the minute I picked up, skipping all the usual pleasantries. “The Pope’s resigning!” Her voice was frantic.

“Yes, I have,” I replied nonchalantly. I was glad my voice didn’t betray me; I was in extreme panic mode, as I tried-with immense difficulty-to wrap my mind around the shocking announcement. I had figured it wouldn’t do any of us any good if I also let my anxiety take over. One anxious person was enough, so for sanity’s sake I chose to act calm. “They say it’s for health reasons,” I added.

“I don’t know what’s supposed to happen, this has never happened before.” She said, still anxious.

I didn’t know what to tell her; I was beside myself with anxiety and that was interfering with my reasoning. I took a while, dug deep into my heart then replied, “Relax mom, just believe it has happened that way because that is how God wills it. So everything will work out eventually. We just have to wait and see.”

To my relief, that eased her angst. We talked for a while before hanging up. As I sat there staring blankly at the TV screen, my mind drifted back to when I was small. I always felt the Pope was the holiest person on earth; subconsciously I likened him to Jesus, so I had this eerie thought that the world would come to an end the day he died.

Apparently, He-Pope John Paul II-died in 2005 and the earth’s still rotating on its axis, everything’s still intact; I was wrong, obviously. Nonetheless, that didn’t erase my earlier presumptions, that the Papal throne has a very sacred significance to it. Its first occupant was St. Peter (referred to by many as Simon), who was given the keys of the kingdom of Heaven by Jesus…(Matthew 16:18) and watching the process of electing a new Pope only confirmed what I already knew; it is an intricate process, with a divine touch.

I couldn’t understand how/why the Pope would resign from a post I always thought was a till-death-do-us-part thing. Was it even allowed? I had many thoughts running through my mind, and the more I thought about it the more I got nervous. The last Pope to resign was Gregory XII, in 1415, almost six hundred years ago, so who/what had inspired Pope Benedict XVI to make that surprising move? I imagined the Holy Pontiff was supposed to hold on to his post until he breathed his last. As far as I was concerned, it wasn’t normal.

I thought about what I had told my mom; if God didn’t want him to resign, he wouldn’t let him, so if it was happening, God really wanted it that way. I focused all my attention on those words, to calm any negative thoughts. The announcement was made on Monday, 11th February, and the lent season was starting 13th February, on Ash Wednesday, two days later.

Of all lent seasons, it’s during this year’s season that I feel I learnt a lot. I’ve learnt to look at things differently. Normally, those who know me think I’m a real optimist, but truth is my everyday life is a constant inward battle; I’m constantly trying to quell pessimistic thoughts which flow in my head, without me even trying.

The Pope had about two weeks before resigning on 28th that same month. I was waiting anxiously to see how things would unfold, as I had nothing to reference his resignation to. When the lent season started, I made a personal commitment to travel the way of the cross every Friday evening. Basically it entails retracing the final steps Jesus took before His crucifixion; it’s like a miniature pilgrimage to the actual places in Jerusalem. It was particularly the 13th station, which opened my eyes regarding the Pope’s resignation:

The Thirteenth Station: Jesus is taken down from the cross.

My Jesus, it was with deep grief that Mary finally took You in her arms and saw all the wounds sin had inflicted upon You. Mary Magdalene looked upon Your dead Body with horror. Nicodemus, the man so full of human respect, who came to You by night, suddenly received the courage to help Joseph take You down from the Cross.

You are once more surrounded by only a few followers. When loneliness and failure cross my path, let me think of this lonely moment and total failure-failure in the eyes of men. How wrong they were-how mistaken their concept of success! The greatest act of love was given in desolation and the most successful mission accomplished and finished when all seemed lost. Is this not true in my life, dear Jesus? I judge my failures harshly. I demand perfection instead of holiness. My idea of success is for all to end well-according to my liking.

As I read this prayer, the one thing that came to mind was the Pope’s resignation; how I’d felt he wasn’t doing the right thing by resigning. I realized sometimes God doesn’t intend for things to end the way we think they should.

That thought subsequently reminded me of the times I felt disappointed when things didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped they would. I realized that sometimes we achieve so much more when we feel like we’ve lost; sometimes there is success in failure.

For most people, success is measured in terms of how much/long one can endure a difficult situation; our pride makes us feel like giving up on a difficult task would be deemed a failure, so we keep tolerating things we don’t like, afraid that people will judge us. I learnt that so long as one is doing what’s right in the eyes of God, it is okay to  ‘call it quits’ sometimes. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, He only expects us to lead holy lives.

So instead of feeling like the Holy Pontiff had made a wrong move, I applauded his courage. He resigned when he knew people would judge him for it; he did something rare, but the thought that he said he was at peace with himself after seeking God’s guidance on the matter, made me feel it was okay too.

God doesn’t expect us to be perfect; He knows we’re only human.