My name is Cathie and I have a messiah complex

I love being needed.  It makes me feel value-able but the older I get, the more I am able to contain it. It has cost me financially, emotionally, energetically but I have also gained. I have always felt the need to save people, fix things, meddle without understanding the consequences to myself.

As a little girl, I always tried to be kind, useful and help, apart from helping my little sis, who I apparently bullied. Sorry Debbie. But I found myself always wanting to be involved, sometimes when I wasn’t needed.

At 12, I had my appendix out and closed curtains around other patients sparked my curiosity. So from then on, I wanted to be a nurse. The world needs nurses, right? Plus I could pick scabs and look at anyone’s nasty injury with the morbid curiosity of a serial killer, so nursing was safer for the human race. Mum tried to talk me out of it but I was determined to make a difference.

I set off at 17 with the innocence of small town living, to the buzz of the big Jozi city. It was more a ‘Yohannesbergg’ energy than Jozi at the time but it was still a world away from my hometown. I never expected to fall in love with ‘live’ music and I threw my energy into being an almost stalkerish fan of èVoid. Night shift willing, I was at every concert my nursing stipend could afford and my need to save was sidelined briefly. After 12 long months of trying to help, fix and save as a nurse, I knew I needed to walk away for my own sanity. But I was left with this need now no longer being met.

My radar would find friends who I would rush in to fix and sometimes it left me scarred and hurt. Many years of fun sound engineering work later I set out on a path in the healing field. Workshops and courses taught me skills that lay dormant and I became a therapist. A rather good one, if I have to say, which feels odd owning but it is true. It helped me learn to only give help when asked but my  ‘saving addiction’ still finds friends,acquaintances  and even strangers that I almost feel compelled to fix. One of the hardest lessons is to wait to be asked for help. I still offer and occasionally I rush in without permission only to be bruised and battered again. My running friend calls me the ambulance chaser because I was always asking if others are ok, or if they need help. I have improved though, now I will dish out a pill or gentle encouragement and keep running instead of waiting with them.

I had a recent walloping when a so called friend who I had helped for over a year accused me of being insincere but I realised that I had meddled when it wasn’t really my business. I learned a big lesson on that but I now listen to those closest to me when they recognise my rush to save. The upside of this that I am no longer beating myself up if I ‘slip up’. I find lessons in it and bring it back to me which in the greater scheme of things is all I am responsible for.  It is fun- this self learning and hopefully self loving but I am still a work in progress.

Besides, the world ain’t broken really. It is perfect just as I see it.

In praise of Cosmos

Every year around Easter, people become a little more aware of their surroundings.  A splash of colour in unlikely places makes us pause for a moment.  All along our open roads people point and sigh. Some people even stop their cars to admire the view. Fans go on photography hunts in the pursuit of the blooming weeds which transform boring, often unsightly bits of land into breathtaking views. These weeds are known locally as Cosmos.

A person can’t look at the view and not feel happy. The history of the plant is varied but I am sure the effect remains the same.  Cosmos lifts our spirits. Sometimes they appear early, around Christmas time and people try and predict the future winter. For me, the season of hibernation is not my favourite although in the past few years it has changed due to the excitement of the Comrades marathon being run. But for a few short weeks of Cosmos we are reminded that even wasteland can be beautiful.  Nature reminds us that it likes cycles, something that I often forget. But feasting my eyes on a field of blooms is a cycle that reminds me of the beauty of simplicity and a quiet promise of returning to a place of pleasure.


Thanks to Leanne Duvenage for the lovely picture.




The mystery of my constant waiting to live and living in wait was revealed to me a little tonight. After an intense session with a wise soul who explained biopsychology it made sense.

Mum waited for two weeks before she told dad she was pregnant with me. The sixth child. So this can be meaningful in different ways.

It is safer, life as I currently know it.

Just mum and me know, so for a brief moment, there was no intrusion.

Perhaps fear

Perhaps dread

Perhaps joy

But it was safer for the outside world  to not know about my impending birth for a brief moment. This could have impacted me in many ways.

I ‘don’t mind ‘ waiting for others. I wait for everything to be just right or ready before I do anything. My presence may cause disturbance. I wait for life to start before I live. I wait for mum to come home. I wait for permission to breathe-live-be.

I wait for love

I wait for success

I wait to breathe ( I hold it a lot)

I wait and

I wait.

Yet it doesn’t feel like I am out of time. There is an abundance of time now. Because…

I am enough

The passing of No 1

This morning my father-in-law died. He was a very unique man and a great role model on how to age with pride. He made no excuses for his beliefs and he made sure that everyone knew where stood and he was always right (according to him). This makes him sound incredibly tough and hard headed to which he was both but although I didn’t spend a lot of time with him, I realised that he was a very caring man. He took on his responsibilities with pride and a steely determination to do his best whether it be fix someones fishing rod or look after his family, his devotion was the same.

I met him when I was 23 years old and was a little afraid of Nic’s biological father who had been nicknamed as ‘No 1’. They spent school  holidays with him and new family so little was known about him by me at the time. My sister-in-law looked wide eyed at me when Nic told her we were driving through to meet him. She never explained the look so I tried to figure out what it meant. On arriving at his home in a small ‘dorp’ on the far East side of the old Transvaal, I immediately felt like I had stepped back in a time zone. Impressions of my childhood neighbours complete with smells and sounds of pressure cooker food made me feel young and shy. I was initially sized up quietly although he would never have owned up to it later, but I was a kind of enemy. I was Engels. Not only that but I was a ‘egter rooinek’ so had to be treated with a little resistance. Ouma and Fransie lived in a small flat attached to the main house where No 1, Poppie ( his wife) and son, Goofy lived. Fransie, was a younger uncle but had Down syndrome so he didn’t really care what language I spoke. He welcomed me with huge hugs and proceeded to show me his crocheting and photos of him and a famous singer. I relaxed with him as Nic and his Dad continued to fight over who was ‘righter’. A task that they never outgrew but it became a form of love language between them.

Slowly, through the years, I became less of an alien to eventually being called – ‘my meisie’ as their English improved and my opinion shifted. He was steadfast in his beliefs, a lot of which, I completely disagree with, however, it was easier for me to suspend mine and learn more about who this man was.

He was devoted to his mother who managed to live a long and fulfilled life yet was concerned about what would happen to her son, Fransie, when she died. She needn’t have worried as her two remaining able bodied sons looked after him extremely well. I remember being so touched by the gentleness No 1 displayed at handling his now, mute brother. He fed him, took him to the bathroom with endless patience and I sat in awe. He took on the responsibility of looking after his bed-ridden wife after a back operation and nursed her back to health. He would brag easily about his latest catch at the freezing winter waters yet we knew that the fishing was more about the fish for him, it seemed to renew his soul. He was devastated when a swarm of bees killed all his birds in his aviary and for a long time refused to keep up his bird hobby. He would tell us stories of the dogs he trained and pets gone before with a love in his eye.

He would call us with his enquiring cheerful voice to check up on us if we had been too quiet and always playfully urged me to ‘ophou hardloop’ after one fall too many. He was enterprising in his tasks at home and never really surrendered the patriarch role which caused a little friction with his son, Nic’s brother, with whom they now lived. In the end, he died as he lived, on his terms. He refused treatment and accepted that he was ready to face his Lord. He tried to keep from burdening his children with worry and fear and would reassure us with a breathless ‘ek is fine’ on the telephone.  Stubborn yet passionate, is a trait he passed on to his children but we will remember the tenderness and kindness with a tear in our hearts.