Archive for October, 2008

Warning- pointless story

Finally I did it. I waited in a queue from 8am on Wednesday until the Fi took me home at 3. I waited and waited with the entire cross section of South Africa. And then when I thought I would rather go home than wait any longer I got to the front of the line and booked my learners test. Today I wrote it and passed (obviously).

I am feeling so very relieved to not have that stressing me anymore. I am just one more step closer to getting my drivers. whew!

I sat with such interesting people. I had lots of fun gaining inspiration from the crazies around me in the queue…

So, No there is no point to this post. But heck, at least I warned you!

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October 30, 2008 at 11:27 pm 1 comment

Sources of Inspirations…

The other day I stumbled across my little book of inspirations. It is a small purple book that my very good friend gave me for my 18th birthday.

Elle is from the UK and she came to South Africa to do some missions work. She got here when there was a lot of chaos in the organisation she was aligned with and it turned out she had no place to stay after a short time here. She ‘randomly’ met my mother (God was the mastermind behind that meeting!) and we ‘happened’ to have a spare granny flat (See, totally God!) and she was able to live with us for a few months.

During this time, I was going through some personal identity issues. I was in matric and was trying to decide on my future, I had troubles at school and I needed to work through a lot of issues with God. Elle knew me while my inner self was in complete turmoil. When I would not find a Godly solution to my problems it was Elle who would take me into her beach buggy and drive me around listening and giving advice.

She is my ‘adoptive’ big sister. My insides giggled when I found this book. I was reading through it seeing notes I made about Confucius and hopelessness. The last note I made was a quote by Mark Twain. I think that God used this thought as one of the stepping stones to bring me to where I am today.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

It was this line of thinking that has brought me into crazy frenzies of bad decisions. This rebellion led me to nothings. Life lost colour. God has used this to ultimately bring me even closer and firmer to Christ and his love, mercy and grace.

My favourite verse is John 10:10 which reads, “The thief comes to kill and destroy, but I have come so that you may have life and have it to the full.” I searched for a full life. I looked everywhere. I found it in Jesus Christ. When the clock turns 10:10am/pm I am reminded of Jesus’ promise. Through him I receive life fuller, grander and in more abundance than I can ever receive anywhere else.

October 30, 2008 at 8:10 am 1 comment

Baby bro’s aren’t really babies once they can beat you up.

The other day was my baby bro’s birthday. And it made me get all sad and stuff thinking that, freaking hell, he is 17! I was working when I was 17. I was fighting with my father about… something… And here is my brother taking up the slack and being a man.

My brother is a nutcase. Some of my favourite stories of him revolve around our family pet… Walter. Poor Walter is a mini dachshund. My brother loved this dog.

He must have been 6 years old. My mother called me into the bathroom to see what my brother had done. I knew then this was going to be good. I peered around the corner to see the dog in the toilet shivering. Joshua was flushing the toilet repetitively because he hadn’t seen my mom and I yet. My mom asked him what he was doing. “I’m giving the dog a bath!”

Same dog, another day- Josh took Walter for a walk by attaching the leash and throwing the dog over the 6 foot tall fence. When Josh realised he couldn’t jump over the fence he tried to pull the poor dog back. Here is the dog hanging by the throat over the side of the fence going up and down. My mother was mortified!

Josh and I have had so many good times. Like the time when he bit my butt while my dad was reading to us. Great times. Especially the day when our play fighting turned into him bleeding and me laughing. His kicking my behind in xbox and PlayStation and my… actually kicking his behind. Or telling on him (oh the glory of being the eldest!)

I love my brother!

Yosh, if you ever read this, know that I am ridiculously proud of you! Even though you can still be a pain in the butt!

October 29, 2008 at 7:45 pm 1 comment

Why I will not be voting

The US elections are just around the corner. Living in South Africa I hear more about the Zimbabwean crisis than the US elections. But…

The United States and what happens there effects the entire world, especially Africa. I have heard the debates and read the articles. Honestly, I will be voting for Buttercup from the Powerpuff Girls this election. She would be better than either canidate.

There is something fishy about Obama. He makes me very uncomfortable. I know it isn’t the wisest way to dismiss a canidate but I truly believe the more smoke the greater the fire. Plus I am a staunch pro-life supporter. However, McCain isn’t much grander. He has flip-flopped depending on his mood it seems from democrat to republican. He still supports the war and I want our troops home. I have friends over there. I support our troops by wanting them home and safe. If there was a third party, maybe I would vote for him. This election however I am not voting. I know thats uncool but neither person represents my views, my voice.

Give me better options. I want more.

October 27, 2008 at 11:00 pm Leave a comment

Monday, Monday so good to me

It is Monday, the day of to dos. The day were I sit and notice everything that I have to accomplish before next monday.

This week is my get-important-things-done week. I normally live in Pretoria near the university. Since the last few exams are around the corner (ie next week) I have a week off and am spending it at my folks home. I do not have a South African drivers license and it seems as though my American one is not applicable for some odd reason. I have not been able to get my license because the stupid government run Home Affairs took so freaking long to issue me my identity document. Now that I have such document I can not get a booking for my test. Why? The entire system has been either fully booked or not working. Curse you Murphy. Curse you South Africa!

This week I am hoping desperately for a lift to the licensing department where I can hopefully get my learners. Hoping. Because I am about to get married and I can’t legally drive. Lame.

I am hoping to study for my exams. Woo. No, I will be studying for my exams. Not hoping here.

I am hoping to find a less expensive but still GORGEOUS wedding gown. Hoping with strong hopes here….

I am hoping to organise the room my parents have given me after I move out of my flat and before I get married.

And there was one other thing…. Oh yes, I am hoping to sort out my inspirations for blogging in November. I would love to reach 30 posts in 30 days!

Have a fantastic Monday everyone! Get all your hope- to – dos and need- to- dos accomplished so that you can breathe free-er!

October 27, 2008 at 5:32 am 2 comments

Caution! Gush Alert!

Today was super-productive-wedding-planning-day! We designed the invitations, the programs and the thank you notes. We finalised the ceremony music, even found one of the Fi’s friends to do a guitar instrumental for the symbolic unity candle lighting (which apparently is not a South African tradition. Weird! Instead they watch you sign the marriage contract. Strange.) We finalised the vows, the wording on the invitations and even the venue itself. I am feeling so stoked!

We had an eventful evening of ‘Air on G-string’ composed by Bach and the motif which, when turned upside-down held a strong resemblance to the female reproductive system, and when turned to the side held slight resemblance to the male reproductive system.

My mother and I argued about the use of RSVP cards and whether or not they need a self addressed stamped envelope in South Africa. We spent hours searching for the ‘proper’ typeface and spacing.

Throughout all these…details I thought I may have lost the Fi for good. He had told me he wants to be super involved in all the planning. He wanted to help in every way. But I worried.

Fact is, he is a man’s man. The guy who takes apart things in order to fix them. He 4x4ed in Mozambique. He repairs huge robotic machines and drives only the manliest cars. He is a freaking Electronic Engineer- and here he is helping my mother and I decide whether or not the brown paper should be used as a focal point. I really did think that he would decide to go watch some Rugby or Cricket or even WWF– something manly and strong. But no. Even if he was cringing-He sat there with me and helped us as much as he could without a complaint *sigh*

I can’t begin to say how thankful I am for him. I can’t begin to express the blessing he has been to me this last year and few months.

The official countdown of man-and-wife-dom is around 119 days. Or maybe even less because my math is TERRIBLE!

And this is my gushy post. The End. 🙂

October 26, 2008 at 8:10 pm Leave a comment

People are cutting more than just bread.

There are a few topics in life that I feel very strongly about. Some of these topics are controversial issues that many people feel very strongly about. Religion, abortion, free speech, and purity before marriage are all issues that many people feel very strongly about and yes, I feel very strongly about all those issues. However, today another issue is on my mind.

I have noticed a very concerning spread of a certain poor choice among young people. It was more secretive when I was in school- I knew only a few who struggled with it- however now, maybe because I am older and (uh wiser I guess) I know many more kids who are cutting or burning themselves as a form of emotional release. This issue is close to my heart and not many are aware of the severity of this new trend in society.

Maybe not everyone will find this post as their cup of tea. It is difficult to put a humourous spin on something that I take so seriously. It is important to me to spread awareness of this because the kids I know who injure themselves are not the kids you would expect. I am not saying strip the youth down and search for strange marks on their bodies. I am not asking you to ask ‘the tough questions’. Instead, I ask for you to be aware.

Self injury is not a form a suicide. It is not an attention seeking mission most of the time either. According to Wikipedia, “Self-injury (SI) or self-harm (SH) is deliberate injury inflicted by a person upon their own body without suicidal intent. Some scholars use more technical definitions related to specific aspects of this behaviour. These acts may be aimed at relieving otherwise unbearable emotions, sensations of unreality and numbness. The illness is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) as a symptom of borderline personality disorder and depressive disorders. It is sometimes associated with mental illness, a history of trauma and abuse including emotional abuse, sexual abuse, eating disorders, or mental traits such as low self-esteem or perfectionism, but a statistical analysis is difficult, as many self-injurers conceal their injuries.” (The links are to the actual Wikipedia site)

The Pain We Hide is a website created by a self diagnosed ‘cutter’. His information may be biased or just plain out wrong. However, they have the most complete compilaation of statistics that I have found. Most web pages are unsure of the actual stats and only post a few. This list seems like a compilation of stats from various other sites that I have seen including Helpline.net and other reputable sites. Unfortunately because it is a personal site without any ethical grounding in plagiarism they do not say where they obtained their statistics. Anyway, they reckon that in the UK,

  • 43% know someone who has self-harmed.
  • 41% of people believe self-injury is selfish and 55% of people believe it’s stupid.
  • Approximately 24,000 teenagers were admitted to A&E for self-injury in England and Wales in 1998.
  • 1 in 130 people – 446 000 or nearly half a million people self-injure across Britain.
  • 142 000 hospital admissions are result of self-injury across England and Wales every year

In the world,

  • An estimated 2 million Americans admit to purposely cutting or burning themselves.
  • The average self-injurer begins in her early-mid teens and continues with increasing severity into her late twenties.
  • More than half of self-injurers are victims of abuse or neglected/emotionally abusive childhoods.

The 19 year old who established this site compiled a list of things tendencies that he has or that he has noticed in his friend who cut. They are very interesting. He lists them as:

“The general picture of people who self-injure appears to be people who:

  • are overly sensitive to rejection
  • are chronically angry, especially at themselves
  • strongly dislike themselves
  • tend to suppress their anger
  • have high levels of aggressive emotions
  • tend to act according to their moods
  • tend not to plan for the future
  • are depressed and suicidal/self destructive
  • tend towards irritability
  • tend to be avoidant
  • do not think they have enough control
  • do not think they can cope

Self-injury can occur at any age, and in any sex, race, culture or status. But the most common occurrences are in females aged between 15 and 19. Males can suffer too but the most common age in males is between 20 and 24 years of age. There is no clear national/international statistics about self-injury as most keep it hidden but estimated numbers have been composed.”

The Helpline said something I think has to go into the discussion of SI (self injury).

Self-injury is little understood by most people. The idea of deliberately hurting yourself is seemingly incomprehensible. For most of us, cutting or burning our skin would be incredibly painful and difficult to carry out. For cutters, it is not a strange thing to do. In fact, many cutters that I have spoken to, despite being ashamed, did not think it was a volatile or destructive way to handle their situation. Perhaps, some do realise. I honestly do not know. The following is extracted from helpline.

“The alteration or destruction of body tissue may be regarded on its surface (both literally and figuratively) as a morbid behavior on the one hand, and as a self-help behavior on the other (Favazza and Conterio 1988). We all have methods of coping with stress, whether it is emotional, physical or psychological. Coping is a behavior, which an individual utilizes to get through stressful, and difficult times as best they can. And sometimes the methods we use are extreme, perhaps excessive in comparison to the original stress. Self-injury is an example of an extreme method, but a method that, nonetheless, serves its purpose. Mentally ill self-injurers have an increased risk of suicide, although self-injury itself in not a failed attempt at suicide. It is frequently mistaken for a suicidal gesture, but there is a clear distinction between repetitive self- injury and suicide attempts. Self-injury is intended not to kill, but rather to relieve unbearable emotional pain and many survivors regard it, paradoxically, as a form of self-preservation (Herman 1992). The reasoning behind self-injury is diverse and by no means the same for all self- injurers. Self-injurers may give a single reason for their behavior, but, more commonly, their reasons are multiple and sometimes, on the surface, seemingly conflicting. Some of the more common purposes that self-injury serves are explored below.

R RRelief from overwhelming emotions is one of the reasons given most often for self-injury. The immense internal psychic pressure felt from overwhelming emotions can seem uncontrollable, frightening, and dangerous. People who self-injure have often not learned to identify, express, or release their emotions. Most have never developed the ability to feel and express emotions as others do. They may not have been allowed to show or release their true emotions. Yet their feelings still exist, whether they show them or not. They may have adopted self-injury as a strategy for getting relief from these intense feelings (Alderman 1997). The relief gained from these emotions is rapid, but temporary. The effectiveness of self-injury, at the moment, to provide relief and release is one of the reasons why self-injurers find it so difficult to stop.

PHPPhysical expression of emotional pain is one way for the self-injurer to provide evidence/confirmation of their psychological suffering. Self-injurers speak of their wounds and their scars as being a way to see the pain they feel inside. That by causing these injuries they are bringing their pain out to be seen and perhaps healed. Often, individuals who engage in self-injury tend to minimize or doubt their own internal experiences. Physically expressing the emotional pain allows them to have concrete evidence of intangible, amorphous, or indefinable emotions (Alderman 1997). Self-injury speaks loudly of the pain the individual feels long before they have the words to express it.

U UUnreality, numbness and dissociation are experienced by many self-injurers. Dissociation is something that most of us have experienced, through such breaks in consciousness as daydreaming or driving past your exit from the motorway. Even though everyone dissociates to some degree at times, for some it is a defense mechanism, protecting them in the face of intolerable emotional pain. After a time, this too becomes intolerable, and self-injury may become a means for reducing, preventing, or ending a disturbing dissociative state. At times, the emotionally numb state may extend to physical anesthesia, so that severe injuries may be inflicted with a minimum of pain (Moskovitz 1996). Although we all dissociate, most of us do not fear that we will physically and/or psychologically disintegrate. What makes it different for self- injurers is that they feel they are shattering – falling apart. One woman uses the analogy of a magician taking a dollar and tearing it into many pieces. He waves his wand, mumbles some words and ‘presto’ the dollar is whole again. She says she feels like that dollar, ripped up into may pieces, she cuts and ‘presto’ she feels whole again.

SE SSelf Punishment and Self Hate may well be the simplest and most easily understood explanation of self-injury. Histories of childhood abuse (physical, sexual, and/or emotional) are represented in a high proportion of individuals who self-injure. Common with childhood abuse is the child erroneously blaming themselves for their abuse. Many children believe that they deserved everything they got, they somehow asked for it, and that they are innately bad. These lessons from childhood often remain and influence their treatment of themselves. They are unduly critical of themselves, leading to feelings of shame and blame, which then leads to self-punishment for their perceived transgression. Many self-injurers have been taught that many thoughts, feelings, and emotions that we take for granted, such as feeling angry and having needs are bad and deserve punishment. When these are aroused in them their self-hate is emphasized and they feel they have to pay. Many describe the letting of their blood, the essence of their life force, as getting rid of some of the badness.

SE SSelf Nurturing may seem to be in conflict with the act of intentionally hurting oneself, but self-injury has a self-nurturing component for some individuals through the self-care they are able to give to themselves afterwards, and through the making on internal wounds external there is also an attempt to heal oneself. Feeling that they are alone and that no one cares is common with self-injurers. A gain from their injuries is the care they give to themselves. One self-injurer described it as ‘an excuse to take care of and be gentle with myself’. Self-mutilation may also be therapeutic because of the symbolism associated with the formation of scar tissue; scar tissue indicates that healing has occurred. Thus, with a few strokes of a razor the self-cutter may unleash a symbolic process in which the sickness within is removed and the stage is set for healing as evidenced by a scar. The cutter, in effect, performs a primitive sort of self-surgery, complete with tangible evidence of healing (Favazza 1996).”

Th TThe Helpline site has a lot of great information as to how to deal with people who cut. It is difficult as an outsider to relate to things we don’t understand. My hope in this post is that you as a reader would better understand this. I am greatly concerned at the prevalence in the South African youth culture. In some circles, due to the ’emo’ trend, it is actually a requirement. If we as the role models of these kids don’t show them better, more constructive ways to deal with life then the statistics will only climb.

Tk TThank you for reading this post and joining me in the fight for our youth. If this is a topic that interests you as it does me another organisation to look at is To Write Love on Her Arms. It is a organisation focussed on awareness of SI, depression and other such things with a Biblical perspective. The link to investigate is To Write Love on Her Arms.

October 24, 2008 at 10:22 pm 1 comment

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