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I CONFESS: Look on brighter side always


BARBADOS NATION

I CONFESS: Look on brighter side always

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I CONSIDER MYSELF very fortunate. I’m from a very stable nuclear family. Both my parents were clearly in love with each other, they raised their children to the best of their ability by providing for us spiritually, financially and socially. My husband, on the other hand, was from a single-parent home, deprived of certain things, financially and spiritually.

Yet, my husband and I share certain similarities as we aspire to make our lives even better than that of my parents or those who raised him. I look back at my experiences with a smile, knowing that there were glaring weaknesses and, of course, strengths. It is what I have gotten out of this experience that makes me, at 55 plus, a better person determined to enjoy a happier life.

As much as my parents loved each other I had never seen my father kiss my mother, passionately or even otherwise. Not for birthdays or anniversaries or even occasion such as Christmas. I, and indeed most of my siblings, inherited this trait. Two younger siblings who live in “bigger countries” have long acted differently based on what I have seen during my visits to them or indeed theirs back home.

One of my younger sisters indicated that the reason she opted to stay overseas after completing her studies was because things were too confined in Barbados and most certainly in our household. She said she found a whole new world and different ways of doing things to what we were told and accustomed doing here in Barbados

I must admit I am now much more open with my husband – holding his hand in public, kissing him for our children, now grown adults, or even grandchildren to see. That sense of fear or shame no longer dominates me.

I no longer feel second-class when my husband goes out with his friends as many men tend to do. I often dislike going out since my husband has many relatives, friends and acquaintances and easily slips into a discussion or indeed an argument about something, from politics to sports to some issue of the day, which often is of no interest to me.

Thankfully, I now have the confidence to talk to others and can socialise a lot easier with almost any crowd. It took some determination on my part. When I look back my parents hardly socialised, except for church events or when my father would stop by the village shop on Friday and Saturday afternoons.

One of the things that had me bogged down at a point was my concentration on the negative. I never realised how far left or right I had gotten in this type of foolish behaviour. I would criticise almost everyone. If my close friends had something negative to say about someone, I tended to support their position. If they criticised my husband, I agreed with them. As a result, I would hardly say nice things to or about my husband. If he complained, I would find a way to strike back and find fault with something he did, whether an hour earlier or five years previously.

It was while spending an extended holiday with a sister overseas that I had a chance to look at myself in the mirror. My sister does not sugar-coat situations and told me: “You are getting too fat, you are too grumpy and you are certainly too negative. How does your husband put up with you?” This was my sister, with whom I share a very close relationship, telling me these harsh words.

I wanted to leave her home, but didn’t; in fact, couldn’t. One of my children was with me and really enjoyed the company of her cousins. I needed a break and had little to do but to relax and go to the mall or visit one of the libraries or nearby attractions. It was spring and flowers were in full bloom. It was a peaceful enjoyable atmosphere.

I took the opportunity to do some introspection. I also watched my sister and her husband. He worked, and so did she. They had to travel by car and then train to and from work. But on mornings she wished him a happy day even if he did not say any such thing to her. On evenings, or late night, when he came home she often sought to hear how his day went. When he came home after 8 p.m. she always sought to encourage him to eat something light, rather than a heavy meal.

She told me that once a month on Sundays, during spring and summer, she prepared lunch and they went to the park for a picnic. During autumn and winter they would bond with a Sunday morning breakfast at one of the popular restaurants. She acted in many ways like my mother, like me, like most Bajan women. Yet, she acted differently to either my mother or me. She praised her husband for all to see.

On my return home I decided to, and have succeeded, in acting differently. I tend not to pick a noise with my husband or anyone else. I cook very early two Sundays a month so we can enjoy the afternoons together whether at the beach, on a pleasure boat or simply driving around. I have stopped comparing and contrasting with others. I spend more time being active in my garden, exercising or with my children. I have less time to be a sloth. I have stopped looking for and highlighting every fault I see in people. I now suggest ways to improve and praise people loudly and publicly.

This approach can bring a sense of renewal, inner happiness and outward beauty. Stop looking for and promoting the negative.

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