As my 40 birthday approaches, I find myself spending a fair amount of time reflecting back on the previous 2 decades, who I was versus who I am now, the experiences that have shaped me, defining moments that have built or broken me.
This morning I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my 20’s (1992 – 2002) and I think I see myself so much more clearly now, who I was, what was important for me. The previous 2 decades of my life have each involved a searching & at times, hurting. My 20’s were all about finding love. I made a lot of mistakes. I was a much more superficial person then than what I am now, how I looked was very important to me. External validation made me feel good. I craved it and sought it out. I didn’t have the developed sense of self-worth,self validation & confidence that came with maturity and my 30’s.
Here are some of the fuzzy memories & random facts about my 20’s:
When I was 20 I was approached by Rapport & invited to enter a Miss South Africa. It was the first time in my life that I thought perhaps I wasn’t the overly tall, ugly duckling I’d always thought I was, but I never had the courage to follow through & just never showed up on the day that my portfolio shoot was booked.
My first job was in the Health & Beauty Center of a prominent Cape Town hotel, we were just coming out of sanctions and S.A. was being flooded by international acts and sports teams. I met loads of interesting & famous people and learned that they’re all just people at the end of the day. I dated lots of interesting men, a Russian wrestler, a French Rugby player, a West Indian cricketer. I think I gave my Mom a lot of grey hairs during that time.
I met, what was then, the greatest love of my life, he also turned out to be my first & greatest heartbreak. Greg. A professional rugby player from Wales, in SA on a club rugby contract. I fell hard & I fell fast. I had our life planned, a move to Wales, getting married & having babies. Clearly Greg had other idea’s, at the time I was too immature to see it, but looking back now, I see how Greg took me on the ride of my life. He’s leaving back to Wales, without me, was almost my undoing. I was heart-broken.
In the haze of my heart-break, I met a man and threw myself completely into a rebound relationship that turned into an engagement and later a marriage, filled with abuse (verbal, physical, emotional) . It was during this relationship that my battle with weight & issues with food begun. Bad habits I still to this day carry with me. Food became my friend & my comforter. I married at 24 & divorced at 26.
It was also during this time I had the most emotionally fulfilling job I’ve ever had. I worked as a lecturer at a private beauty therapy college as Head of 1st Year Students, Body Care division. I loved my subjects, both the practical teaching and the theoretical teaching. But I loved my students even more. This was, without a doubt, the most frustrating but also the most emotionally fulfilling position for me.
After my divorce, you’d think I’d have learned a lesson but I threw myself into another rebound relationship, with a man I was later to learn was leading a double life, he was engaged to someone else and I was his “bit on the side”. Again, I got myself into a relationship where I was emotionally dominated by my partner. My every move was planned by him, what I wore, who I saw, where I went were his choices to make. Ultimately he did me a great favor, 2 years into our “relationship” (he broke up with his fiancé 3 months after we started dating) he told me that he couldn’t take our relationship to the next level, or commit further to me, because he was afraid that if he did that “he’d miss out on something better.” Those words stung & on some levels I still carry them with me today. That was like having a bucket of ice water thrown in my face and I was able to catch a wake up, break the cycle and move on.
Six months later I met Walter. He was unlike any of the men I’d had relationship’s with. He was kind & considerate. He spoiled me rotten and I decided I’d take him for a ride, use him like I’d been used in the past. There was only one problem with my great plan, I did not plan on falling in love with him and boy, did I fall in love. A year later we got engaged and 2 months after my 30th birthday we got married.
So there you have it, some defining moments & relationships from my 20’s.
Musings from my 30’s to follow.