It is amazing how your horizons can change, how suddenly grow darker or brighten. At the age of 17 when I left school to go to university, I was too young to really know what I wanted, but I did know that I needed to get away from overwhelming parental control. It was like clawing out of a well. I had to beg to be allowed to study in the outskirts of the city of my birth, a 15 hour drive from ‘home’ at the time. If not for the feud between me and a sibling, my leaving home would never have been considered. For the first time in my life I felt free and also a little lost, as I was raised extremely conservatively. I went to the grand total of one school party, was not allowed ‘a boyfriend’ nor was I actually attractive enough to get one anyway as I had an unfortunate untreated female condition. Give their long suffering daughter the pill to save her? Heavens no! It would be a sin! (No, I was not pregnant, duh. Other things.)
This was in 1982 South Africa – no computer, no internet, no mobile phones etc. I knew nothing, was too shy to go to the library, to embarrassed to go to class some days and only bloomed in the dark, on the dance floor. As soon as guys saw me in the light though, I never saw them again. I lost my first love due to being a silly blushing virgin, in extreme fear of seeing a man naked. I had absolutely no street-smarts, and was this ugly little wallflower with zero self confidence and zero knowledge of the world out there. But I could dance.
I did know that I loved animals and in the res where I stayed, always swapped my meat for the other girls’ potatoes at dinner time. On my horizon was one thing – to grow up at last, to make my own decisions. Even though we had strict curfews…oh the old days. I could not wait to spread my wings and fly.
The future was still enveloped in a haze but I sort of knew the direction to follow. Unfortunately, in life you can only work with what you have and I had nothing really. A shitty part time job in a bank and not much to prepare me for the huge difference between public schools and University. I failed miserably at Chemistry which I was forced to take, and was too stupid or rather uninformed and unable to change my majors. Hindsight…it could have been fixed so easily. Three years wasted down the bog and I ended up eventually studying and completing something that my heart was not into – as a last resort. Not a good start.
I loved my first job at an international airport even though I earned a pittance, and for a few years lived as a poverty stricken junior employee in a tiny flat close to work, with only my cat for company. I met a lot of awesome people though and grew a bit in confidence. By this time I even had the knowledge to train students. My horizon looked brighter. I was working, finally reliant only on myself, had great friends, was even going out with a great guy for a few months. He never even knew me when I was the ugly wallflower but still called me Ugly Duckling. Nice hey. I guess it was my lack of self confidence which gave me away. My cat and I lived under the bread line but, we coped – youth forgives many things.
I moved on to bigger and better things, a new job, new town and after a few years in small studio flats bought my own one bedroom place with a garden. Things were looking up as I met my husband to be at my job, he was a colleague whom I admired. My horizon was rosy and I was happy, well mostly. The husband of a colleague even thought I was good enough for his magazine front page.
I got married when I was 27 and unfortunately things did not work out for us. I had to sell my home and lost on the deal. The wedding itself was a disaster due to family interference in everything from the dress to my guests, and to top it all my beloved cat was killed while we were away on honeymoon for 5 days. I unfortunately entrusted my cats to my parents instead of a proper cattery as we were so poor – with tragic results. I got back to heartbreak and it all went downhill from there. I had to start a new job, adapt to married life and a totally new scenario while terribly depressed and hurt.
Divorce, resignation and relocation to a new town far away where I knew nobody, followed. My horizon was looking better once again but very new, very different and quite difficult. I went back to the coast at last, to my beloved ocean – after begging my husband for years (without success) to make the move.
After sustaining third degree burns on both hands due to melted fabric – interaction between duvet and heater – I was living in a cramped caravan in wintertime with my animals as I had no other housing, I was forced to purchase a relatively cheap house which I could not afford in the end as a single person on a single income. Affordable accommodation in a holiday town is fairly non-existent if you are not a tourist. We can all guess how that ended and I actually relocated about 12 times during 8 years in one town.
I loved my job and did well, very well, but forces beyond my control decided to darken my horizon. Male chauvinism, outdated standards & practises, petty jealous females and judgemental bosses galore. I fell pregnant at 33, totally unplanned, unmarried and at the top of my career causing some very unpleasant situations – but my daughter made it all worthwhile. I was able to raise her by the ocean which we both love and for a few years all was well. My horizon expanded greatly but then became almost blocked off. I had nowhere to go after I left my job due to the extreme unfair situations. From being called names due to becoming pregnant – stupid, sour tit etc as I was breastfeeding, I also discovered a lump in my breast and a borderline cancerous growth on my ovary at the same time and decided to rather spend time with my child than with assholes.
The rest, well, they say ‘when days are dark – friends are few’ and I am totally living proof of that. Through the past fifteen years I only had odd jobs here and there, tried to make things to sell (crafts) and could barely survive after my own business failed due to the really hard economic situation and drought in our country. Nobody actually really cared/s about me. I had a few boyfriends but the safety of my daughter always came first. If you are not a single mother with a young girl in the house to protect, you won’t understand. So I had to cope on my own. It has been hard.
Through heartbreak after heartbreak, losing almost all of my beloved pets who kept me going through tough times, with so much sh*t happening to me, I have managed to write three (and a half) books but it looks like nobody reads anymore. My horizon has become non existent and I can’t seem to find any light at the end of the tunnel. It is hour to hour, day to day for me now. During my lonely search for a life worth living I went from many new horizons, trying new things, new places, never sitting still to none at all. I had the guts to storm in where angels fear to tread and now, No hope. My last chance is my daughter who graciously looks after me at the moment, and a dream I have.
That dream is another new horizon – in my old age…my last horizon that I will ever see will hopefully be…