Too Serious?

Steve from the gym said something to me last week which caught me off-guard – he said I shouldn’t get angry so quickly.  The more I thought about it, the more I wondered what he meant, so I eventually asked him, because I don’t see myself as an angry person, and I really hope other people around me don’t perceive me as such. He explained to me that it was just something he said and that I shouldn’t take him so seriously.  But I can’t help it – I’m serious by nature.  I haven’t had much choice – life has made me that way.

I was even a serious child.  Mom attributes it to the fact that I grew up as an only child – and back in the day when I was still a kid, it wasn’t necessary for kids to go to a creche, play school, or the like.  I only really began to interact with other children when I went to primary school at the age of seven.  Sharing my things came naturally, as did compassion.  One thing that I hated was that I was often the last child in the class to finish a task – not because I was intellectually stunted, simply because it had to be perfect.  I will never forget how proud I was to be awarded the “First in Class, Grade One” at the end of that year – it was a book prize called The Little Duck Annual.  I loved reading from a young age, but receiving that book was the catalyst that had me devouring real books – by the beginning of Standard One (Grade Three), I was way beyond reading Dick and Jane’s Adventures and See Spot Run. At the end of Standard One in 1988, I received another book prize for being “The Most Improved Reader, Standard One”.  The book was Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows.    Twenty four years later I still have that book – it is one of my most sentimentally prized possessions.  Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked…

Growing up in Johannesburg, with only Mom really being around – my biological father would often disappear for days at a time – I was taught from a young age to be independent.  By the end of my first school year, I was going around the center of Johannesburg paying Mom’s accounts each month.  On one of the few occasions that my biological father (he and my mom were never married) was home, he offered to attend a PTA meeting and I wanted to go with to the school.  We caught the train to the school, and that night walking across the bridge that connected the platforms, we were accosted by six men.  One held me at knife point, while the other five robbed my father of everything he had on him, including his shirt.  Not once did he plead for the man wielding the knife not to harm me, he simply gave them what they wanted.  The man holding the knife kept telling me that he wouldn’t harm me though.

I remember another occasion when Mom was talking to someone on the phone about a lady called Annette, whom she thought my father was having an affair with.  It turned out he was – I was off school for a few weeks with chicken pox when there was a knock at the door.  A woman stood there and simply told me, “Tell your fucking father his child’s been born.”  

Many South Africans will remember that during the late1980’s a number of young girls were abducted, allegedly by a man called Gert van Rooyen and his partner Joey Haarhof.  The girls were never found.  I remember hearing about the missing girls on the news and although my parents never spoke to me about the missing girls per sé, they did tell me never to talk to strangers.  They didn’t have to tell me more than once either.  Strangers could hurt you, and that was a serious matter.  I recall an incident where I pestered my parents to go to movies and eventually my father told my mother that I should be allowed to go – after all, I was allowed to roam the streets paying accounts.  So, I got to go to movies on my own.  On my way home, I was trudging up a hill towards the Johannesburg High Court when a white bakkie (SUV) stopped and the man offered me a lift home.  I told him quite simply that my parents told me never to talk to strangers and I ran, as fast as my little legs could carry me!  I can’t say with certainty that it was Van Rooyen, but it could have been.  I didn’t fit the profile of the girls he abducted – they were blond.

At the age of nine, my father was more absent from home than usual, so Mom packed me up and we came to live in the town where she grew up.  We weren’t here long when Aunty Carol introduced her to the man that a few years later became my step father, although I don’t think of him as such.  He is my dad – everything I imagined a father to be – caring, generous to a fault, compassionate, funny, warm, gentle and well…the list could go on and on.  He and mom were married 20 years last September…again I’m getting sidetracked, sorry.

At the age of almost thirty-three, this serious woman is still living at home – and wondering… is the fact that I’m so serious what scares the good guys away?  I can’t change who and what I am, but other people can’t change their perceptions either.  Sounds like I have a catch-22 situation on my hands…

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2 thoughts on “Too Serious?

  1. Saranne March 12, 2012 / 1:05 am

    Firstly, I need to say that you are a wonderful person. I have read a couple of your blogs and think that it takes real courage for you to put them up. I remember when we were at school together. I could not have asked for a better friend. You may have been a little serious, but then so was I. The main thing that I remember about you is your caring nature. You have had a tough run which is what has made you who you are. Never regret that, You are perfect just the way that you are. I am single after a disaster of a marriage which just about sent me to my grave. It has taught me to be more protective which is probably why the ‘good guys’ don’t come near me. I just need to say that one day someone will come along and accept you for you and he will be worth the wait. If people aren’t willing to accept you and love you at your worst, then they sure don’t deserve you at your best.
    An important lesson from me, never settle for a relationship that isn’t right. While the loneliness may suck at times and it would be wonderful to have someone there, being in a relationship that is a struggle every day can be more lonely and damaging. Those great guys that seem to be scared away by your seriousness cannot be all that great as they have failed to recognise the wonderful person behind the seriousness.
    Keep hoping and believing, you will get what you desire in the end.
    I am sorry if I have rambled on a little bit. Wish that I could hop on a plane and get back to SA to see you. Lots of love and hugs and remember that you are perfect just as you are. xoxo

    • Mid-Thirty Misfit March 12, 2012 / 8:06 am

      Hey Saranne, thanks for commenting and for your kind, motivating words 🙂
      I can’t say with certainty that I have become protective…but I do think that I get too serious too quickly, which does scare the good guys off – before they actually do get a chance to know the person behind the seriousness. I said to my friend Roma a while back that I am an extremely intense person – I know it – and that it does sometimes make people wary of me, but I am not a bad person. I don’t think people see me as such either. I do wish that I could lighten up sometimes though…Thanks again for the kind words. Lots of Love too xxx

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