I love the end of year period. It starts from Independence and continues right into New Year. In fact, it extends a little longer for me because my birthday falls around the middle of January. No matter how hard the year is, I try to allow myself the courage and resolve not to be courageous or resolved about much in this end of year season.
For this week, I’d started another heavy hitting social and economic analysis. Then I had random meetings with two Barbadian women warriors and my house got flooded. I did not feel like being the strong woman with a lot to say.
The two women warriors are raising children alone after having been abandoned by their men. We all had similar stories. We were facing similar issues. My thoughts immediately went to the safe spaces we
have for women to just fellowship in Barbados. I came up so short. Better must be done in 2017.
While I swopped bucket after bucket of water, I’ve realized that the women of Barbados have to save ourselves. The women warriors who have been betrayed by love, men and ourselves, need to find a redefinition for our womanhood. We have to admit that we are deeply wounded by growing up in a misogynist society where our men are not trained to cherish us. We must collectively demand more but until then, when the house floods, we must form an army around each other.
Most of us are struggling with the same issues and the same challenges. One of the benefits of building a stronger sisterhood is that we get the support of each other and we get to go easy on ourselves. We get to accept the point we are at and move from there to grow.
As I wish you the best for your holiday, I want to tell you whether you are in a happy place or not, you are not alone. Never settle. Do not be part option or a doormat for anyone. Love yourself, be kind to yourself and leave room for goodness to find you. You are imperfectly perfect. Strong and broken and worthy all together.
To the men, confused and frustrated with ‘the unmannerly Bajan women’. Barbadian women can be hard to love. Hard to understand and that is because most of us know hell personally. I thought I would leave you with this beautiful piece from Kathy Harper:
The woman who has been to hell and back is not easy to love. Many have tried. Most have failed. The weak need not attempt, for it will take more strength than you even know you possess; more patience, more resilience, more tenacity, more resolve. It requires a relentless love, one that is determined and not easily defeated.
For the woman who has been to hell and back will push you away. She will test you in her desire to know what you are made of, whether you have what it takes to weather her storm. Because she is unpredictable—at times a hurricane, a force of nature that rides on the fury of her suffering; other times a gentle rain, calm, still and quiet.
When she is the gentle rain that falls in time to her silent tears, love her. When she is the thunder and lightning and ferocious winds that wreak havoc, love her harder. She is a contradiction, a pendulum that will forever swing between fear of suffocation and fear of abandonment, and even she will not know
how to find the balance between the two. Because today, although she will never tell you, she will feel insecure. She will want you to stay close, to tuck her hair behind her ear and kiss her on her forehead and hold her in the strength of your arms. But tomorrow she will crave her independence, her space, her solitude.
For while you have slept, she has been awake, unable to slow her thoughts, watching clocks and chasing time, trying to make the broken pieces fit, to make sense of it all—of where and how she fits. She fights her demons and slays her dragons, afraid if she goes to sleep, they will gain the upper hand, afraid if she goes to sleep she will no longer be in control. Tomorrow she will be tired, and your presence will smother her. She will need only herself.
When she reaches out to you, love her. When she pushes you away, lover her harder. New situations and places and people and experiences will make her anxious. She will be fiercely independent and long to overcome her fears, all the while as terrified as a small child alone in the big world. Sometimes she will need to be courageous, to prove to herself she has what it takes.
Other times she will need you to take her hand and hold it firmly in yours. Sometimes she may not know what she needs, and you will need to read her like a book with worn pages and a tattered spine and be what she needs when she does not know herself. When she is brave and steps into the world on her own, love her.
When she is scared, but refuses to take your hand, love her harder. She will live in fear of not being enough and always being too much—an endless battle to find the middle ground. Ashamed if the scale falls one way or the other, ashamed to be herself for no one has ever loved her both when she is small and also when she is tremendous.
When she feels too much, love her. When she feels not enough, love her harder. Sometimes she won’t hurt and the light will shine from her eyes and her laughter will be a rare and precious melody. But sometimes she will hurt so much from the trauma still in her body; she will ache, she will feel pain and anguish. The light will grow dim and the music will fade.
When she is the light, love her. When she is the darkness, love her harder. She will always love you with caution, with one foot out the door. For she does not understand a love with no conditions, one that is powerful enough to withstand hard times. She cannot allow herself to fully trust in your love, and she will keep parts of her heart hidden—the parts that have been hurt the most, the parts she can’t risk being hurt again when she has worked so hard to stitch them together.
She will always watch, wait and expect you to leave first. And when you don’t, she has a truth written upon her heart that says you will—it’s only a matter of time, for everyone who loves her leaves her. And so she will seek to sabotage the relationship; she will seek to destroy it, she will seek to leave first, she will seek to hurt you before you can hurt her. This is how she stays in control, this is how she survives, how she will ensure she will not get hurt again.
When she wants to love you, love her. When she wants to hurt you, love her harder. Being out of control terrifies her. Don’t ever make her feel powerless, trapped or without her freedom. She needs to dance barefoot under enormous blue skies, to feel sand between her toes, to run with wolves as the wind weaves magic through her hair, for here is where her healing is found.’
(Marsha Hinds-Layne is a full-time mummy and part-time lecturer in communications at the University of the West Indies.