So today I am connecting the dots from a number of experiences I encountered with one woman, I became acquainted with many years ago. I’ll call her Winsome. We never were bonafide friends but would cross paths maybe once a year and not every year at an annual community event.
My very first encounter with Winsome was as students enrolled on a 10 weeks drama course over 25 years ago. In an improvisation task set by our drama teacher, I became very uncomfortable with the remarks Winsome made. It felt like a personal attack. What I experienced was a venomous barrage of words that hit way below the belt. It cut at gut level and was masked as ‘being in character!’
Further meetings which were few and far between, has given me reason to question the character of this woman. At community events where she has been a part of the support team, I have experienced avoidance, neglect and down right disrespect. On one ocassion, Winsome left me standing, waiting, wondering what had happened to her when she was given instruction to collect and bring items for me. Being next in the queue to be served dinner by Winsome, on another ocassion, she pretended to be in a day dream as I approached her and when the drinks on her tray ran out at the person sat next to me, at one of the annual event, she claimed she would be back with more. She came out with a full tray of drinks without checking to see if I had been served and headed to the other side of the room. As these incidents took place between one or two years apart, they were forgotten. The last incident triggered my first meeting with her at the drama workshop.
Years later, when seeking an English tutor for my son, I received a message from a friend that my number had been passed on to Winsome and that she would call me. When a month passed and there was no response, I was not at all surprised. A few weeks later, whilst walking in the town centre, I saw Winsome walking towards me. My mobile phone rang and I stopped to answer it. When I looked up in what was just a few seconds she was no where to be seen.
However, half an hour later there was nowhere for her to turn when I happened to walk into a store in which she was browsing. I entertained a conversation with her. I mentioned the tutoring to which she mentioned she would call. I have never received that call.
In the summer of this year, with who I assumed was her new partner, a man who some might consider to be high-profile, Winsome walked arm in arm with him up the street that I was walking down. I had made up my mind there was nothing to say and made no attempt to address her. I was surprised when through the corner of my eye, I could see her making an effort to greet me with smiles and a wave. I continued on without looking back. I am sure my action prompted her acceptance of a FB friend request I had sent to her at least a year before! Interesting!
I attended a teacher’s workshop a few months ago and there she was. We exchanged pleasantries. Months later when, information promised was not received, I sent a message giving my feedback and requested the information. Her response ignited frustration in me and again caused me to think of previous years. I was done with her once and for all.
In a brief conversation with an acquaintance about my experience, it was suggested I let Winsome know as she may be unaware of her actions. Funnily enough, the acquaintance had received similar treatment by Winsome. As our paths appear to cross more regular as a result of her relationship with her partner, I entertained the thought of addressing the matter.
In my going through the incidents, to make sense of it all, a revelation came. I have recently set up this blog where I share experiences that have taught me lessons. The strap line is ‘connecting the dots’. In looking at recurrent incidents in life whether with the same or different people, looking at the situation at a deeper level will bring to light what is to be addressed to break the pattern and change the experience.
What I realised was, all those years ago, Winsome was the channel used to draw attention to my insecurities about being a black woman of a darker hue. The issues were hidden at subconscious level. Over the years her avoidance, neglect and the disrespect she displayed are evidence of the views and treatment held and received in this society. Obviously this had affected my self-image. That weakness though covered by hair extensions and make-up, the mask some of wear as black women, was detected by Winsome.
It was interesting when I attended the teachers’ workshop to hear Winsome’s account of being a black girl in a predominately white school and how she had been bullied. Had Winsome been transferring her powerlessness on to me? Had she tapped into a weakness in me that she identified with? Did she now feel powerful as she was many shades lighter than me? Did this make Winsome feel privileged, superior and justified in her behaviour? Was she inflicting on me what she had experienced? Yes this prejudice exist within black culture! Molatto/Negro, light-skinned/dark-skinned, nice hair/natty (nappy) hair!
What I have learned is that, there was work for me to do. It may have appeared that Winsome was being nasty and some may say yes she was but there was something for me to heal even if she didn’t recognise she needed to address things about herself. I can only be responsible for the change I want to see and be.
Over the years, I have done a lot of self- healing and today I am the happiest I have ever been in my skin of dark complexion, with my broad nose, thick lips and short, course nappy hair. As I have acknowledged who I Am, I am not phased by other’s opinion of me. The neglect, avoidance and what may appear to be disrespect does not cause irritation and was evident in my decision to not give Winsome my attention. She soon sought mine! By just walking past, it confirmed my own healing of the place she shone a light on that caused pain so many years ago.
My advice would be if you are faced with experiences that continue to cause a certain unpleasant feeling, instead of being angry with the person or people or situation, go deeper. Ask the question not why is this happening to me? But what do I need to learn from this experience? As you reflect and connect the dots, the answer will become clear. You can then decide how to move forward.
I will not be making attempts to interact with Winsome, she came to teach me what I needed to know and I do not think her character has changed but now without any negative emotions attached, I see her for who she is. I forgive her, thank her and move on to enjoy life more abundantly.