Date: April 7, 2016
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My name is *Abigail. I would like to share my I story with you.

From childhood I felt ‘different’. I think differently than others, and feel differently about things than others. I really thought there was something wrong with me. So many times I wished I could be like my sister. She paid little attention to what other people thought about her – things that hurt me, she laughed at. I loved to dress up. But many times when I would wear something that would show my tummy, or a bit of cleavage and them my mother would say – ‘no my child, bad girls (sluts) dress like’. So, I came to believe I was bad, because why did I see nothing wrong in things that others regard as wrong?

I loved motorbikes. The girls with their sexy leathers outfits, I would always admire them! . . . But then again only ‘bad girls’ ride motorbikes! I married and have four daughters. My second daughter is just like me. I could see myself in her. And I hated it! I tried everything to change her, to let her let go of the things I liked as a child. I wanted to protect her against also not being ‘bad’.

Subconsciously, I found myself in a “mould” so that I could be acceptable by others. I wanted to be what I thought I should in order to be accepted by others. I often thought – my friends/ girlfriends really knew who I am, they would despise me! Where I worked a workshop was held for management – Keirsey personality analysis – so that we as colleagues can understand each other better. The facilitator explained that there are four (4) main groups of personality, with their subgroups.

Approximately 66% – 70% of the global population is badgers. Workers. Incredible sense of responsibility. Caring for others, especially children and older people. Committed. Approximately 17% – 19% are owls. The most confident group. Architects, inventers, etc. About 9% – 10% are foxes. People who make happen. Live in the moment. Optimists. Crafters. And about 2% – 5% are dolphins. Creatives. Writers, artists, actors, teachers, etc. Because there are so few of them, they feel no one understands them. Therefore, usually once they go to college, they get along on their own, because everyone to study in specific areas, mostly the same personality type, and how they can live among people they understand. I was the only dolphin. I thought. Now it only me who is different, why can’t I just be a badger like the others.

At home I am seen as one of the children. I do not even think my husband realised he does that. I often called irresponsible, pathetic, crazy, stupid, etc. I never took decisions regarding the house or the children because whatever I decided would be wrong. I left it all to my husband. I believed I was not able to do it. For example should I get a parking ticket (fine), I was irresponsible, and I did not think, and I should pay the fine myself, yet he knows I had no money. I’m financially dependent on him. Should he get a parking ticket (fine), it’s nothing, it just mentioned by the way, if ever, and laughed off. I never dared to him to ask why he is so irresponsible, because how would remind me who provides for us ‘- i.e. put food on the table, so it’s okay for him to make a mistake.

Conversations is the house was purely about is the food ready? Where’s my black shirt? Did you sew my beige pants pocket, etc. I was an object. Not a woman. Never was I physically beaten, but I often thought why don’t you hit me with your fists, throw me against the wall, then I can defend, or I can run away, but this hurt in my heart and soul, me being hurt, I cannot stand. I’m still the girl you fell in love with. What happened between us?

We were already married about 27 years when I discovered MXit. And I was hooked! I could communicate with faceless people. I could share my deepest feelings with faceless pals, I could live, just as I am, no face masks. And these people liked me! They greeted me in the morning, and asked how I was doing. They looked forward to my chats. Eventually there were also male friends. I was usually much older than them; many of them saw me as a big sister. But they became personal. Once it gets too personal, I deleted that person and found another friend. Suddenly I found an outlet for pent-up feelings and all this hurt. I could reveal my deepest secrets to someone, because I did not have to look them in the eye. And the whole time I was wondering how is it possible that someone else can find me attractive without seeing me physically yet my husband, with whom I live, sleeps in the same bed with me doesn’t know me? I was emotionally dead. I knew the day when he finds out, my life will be over. I knew he would chase me away, I knew I would have no home, and I knew I would take my life. For I could not live without him, because besides everything, I loved him very much. No matter how much he hurt me. I always made excuses for him, convinced myself he could not help the way he is, because he does not realise what he is doing, and because I did not want to hurt him, I allowed him to hurt me.

Self-image was no longer there, so I literally lived from one day to the next, until the day everything came out. And I had to pack my things. I packed black bags, because the suitcases were his. My parents had to come and fetch me, because the vehicles were all his. I slept one final night in the house. Early the next morning I asked him if I could talk to him, just explain why, although I did not exactly know why. But before I went to talk to him, I drank a handful of sleeping pills. So that I know I could now tell him everything in detail, and I will not live to live with it. I did not want live anymore. For a while now.

That was the turning point. I went to a psychiatric clinic, and had regular sessions with my psychologist. She asked if I knew what it meant, the fact that I was a dolphin. She suggested that I should read up on it. I was shocked. I could not believe that someone could so accurately describe ME. Could it be possible that someone could describe me and know me without knowing me physically? I understood for the first time why I never felt I fit in somewhere, or feel I belong anywhere. So my journey started with myself because for the first time I understood myself and got to know myself. And I realised, after a long and painful process with myself, I’m exactly who I should be, exactly what God wanted me to be. When He made me, he thought about His craft. Every freckle, every wrinkle, everything. I am me. And bit by bit I started loving myself.

I went so far as asking a colleague whether he take me for a ride on his motorbike. BMW. Speed bike! I called his wife and asked if it’s okay with her. And off we went. The thrill. That indescribable feeling. Almost same feeling as when you are in a Boeing and it is rising. Wanted to get up and scream with joy!

Meanwhile, I became grandmother, and my second grandchild on the way. On my 50th birthday went along for the 4D ultrasound. And the baby was hiding – behind his hands behind the placenta. It’s as if he does not want us to see him. He arrived, big and healthy, beautiful baby, more than 4kg. And he got his grandfather’s names! Six and half days later, the worst happened – he died. I was broken. To see my child’s pain and you cannot help her, a plaster won’t make her feel better; it is not a pain that can be kissed away.

I suddenly realize how important time. The concept of time. Our time is not God’s time. He lived his full little life for six and half days here on earth. I was so afraid he would be forgotten, and I needed to make sure he is not forgotten. My husband once shared a picture of the grandchildren for someone, and then said – he would have been the second one. I immediately responded and said – he IS the second one! He will always be the second one! If there are siblings, they will the third and fourth, but he was and remains the second one!

I started on my own making baby clothes, but I wanted to do it in memory of him. I played around with his name’s initials for a while and used his name as a trademark. I really did not know what to do, until I got involved with Gender Links. I was more determined than ever to make a success of my business. I realised I AM able to make it work!

I became part of the group in January 2015, in phase two (2) and unfortunately I missed the first phase. Before the GL workshop, I did not really know how to manage a business. Now I understand business plans, stocktaking, budget, financial plans, statements, etc.

My biggest challenge is marketing. The place where my business is stationed is outside of prospective buyers’ normal daily movement. The result of this is that I am m advertising through flyers, catalogs at consulting rooms of gynecologists, etc. I do not always have the finances to do this.

Before I began my business, I worked at a state institution. The work pressure was great, and after my grandson’s death I could not handle it, and I decided to make a clean break and do something completely different, something that has meaning for me. I have always been an artistic person, and I wanted to do something where I could express my talents. I like painting, decoupage, sewing, writing, crocheting, etc. And I wanted to do something where I could secure my grandson’s memory hence the idea of his name.

The training made me definitely learn a lot in connection with the business-side of business. I was just a grandmother who wanted things to make and sell them. Now I have a greater incentive to try to make a success of a fully-fledged business. I realize it’s a learning process, a long process, it cannot happen overnight. But I have a lot of patience.

The council of Mossel Bay Municipality has been really very supportive through the Gender Links workshops. Without it I would not have known how to move forward, and I would not have realized my true potential.

Apart from the training material, the meeting of other entrepreneurs was so valuable and so informative. After I was involved with the group and shared their experiences each, I realized, each of us has a story! Everyone carries deep inside us a past that has brought us where we today, that sent our lives in a specific direction, yet it is each of our choices that determine our destiny. And we all managed to take the positives from the negatives, and it continues to build, each in our own right. By hearing everyone’s life stories and realising that everyone has his own hurt, no matter in what form, and to hear how they rose above their struggles was really an eye opener. No matter what race, age, background. We are all women. We all have one goal in mind. And we support each other. Whether in prayer, a hug, encouraging word or message, or just an ear that can listen.
I was never physically assaulted (abused). But I was abused verbally and ridiculed. Financially I also curtailed. In such an extent that I have entered into various loan until I was in such a mess financially that I had to go for financial counseling. Today it is better, after all we went for counseling, and he tries really hard, and I appreciate it so much, to see that he really making an effort to make to change.

I think Gender Violence can definitely be reduced by economic empowerment. It gives women confidence, gives her herself sense of value back, and so she was more able to stand up for herself and her rights as a woman.

There are so many lessons that I learned. Life lessons as well business lessons. In order to keep my business fresh. I always do research, physically as well as on the Internet, what is in demand on the day, and customers’ needs. I prefer to work on orders, because customers have other ideas, and everyone give me a new challenge and a new opportunity to be creative. I can plan better, broadened my vision, and therefore I am confident and make well-informed decisions.

My vision is to employ more workers, albeit only one woman. With the aim to empower her, so that she can later on be self-sustained can be self-sufficient and confident in her own work. She will do commission based work so that she does feel she works for me, she should know she actually works for herself. Business women, for women in order to empower each other. In 2030 I will be 71 years old. “Still going strong! I would like to see me business become a well-known name on everyone’s lips. Exclusive, unique, creative and increasingly empowering women. I want to take this idea / vision of me a success, generate income that my financial independence will make.