Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Princess and The Prisoner

Princess and the Prisoner

If you are going to read this blog, I strongly encourage to read both parts. Reading both parts is very important to fully understand the meaning of this entry.

The Prisoner:

I am trapped! I am not able to do anything alone or for myself! I can barely breath! I do not get to make any decisions and I am constantly being watched. They warned us about feeling like living in a fishbowl but it has been over a month since I lived with my family, this is getting ridiculous.  My mom is so overprotected I am getting treated like a child. I have to tell her where I am going and what I am doing, have to ask permissions to do things and sometimes she says no! I try to go running and she makes someone go with me. I walked to the store alone and got scolded. When we walk together in the village and a car passes I can just feel her worry rising, she holds my hand and we do not keep walking until the car passes. Really?? I am 23 years old and you are holding my hand while a car passes??
Once at midnight I had to use the restroom and even debated on waiting until morning because I did not want to disturb my mom who sleeps in the main room outside of mine. (She sleeps in the main room because her room is too hot, I also think she does it protecting me and making sure we do not sneak out). I almost peed my pants debating. When I thought how dumb it was to wait I opened my door as quietly as I could and by the time I reached the door to the outside she turned on the light in a panic asking what was going on.
"Nothing, I just have to go to the bathroom."
"Turn on the light turn on the light, get your shoes. Are you okay??"
"Yes I just have to go to the bathroom. I'll use my phone as a light. Sorry I woke you, go back to sleep."
All broken English/Samoan. I go inside the room and as soon as I sat down she turned on the light for me. She was waiting outside for me making sure I was safe. The bathroom is maybe 10 feet from the house. I could hear her waiting for me and it made so annoyed and then I got bladder shy and I could not even go! So then I go back into my room frustrated and in pain and slept angrily that night for her smothering me with worry.
I went to Apia other day and she called me ALL DAY! Made sure I was on the bus, sitting with my sister, not talking to boys, made it to the city, asked what I was doing, if I made it on the boat, if I was getting a ride from the wharf  I fell asleep on the ride home and when I woke up I had 10 missed calls from her. I almost threw my phone out the window! I have not reported to anyone since I was young and even then it was not as constantly as she wants. They will not let me do anything for myself. They tell me when and what to eat and then after they will not even let me wash my own dish. I can not wash my dishes, cook my food or clean my clothes. My independence self is going crazy!

The Princess:

I have never been treated so well in my life! Here in Samoa it is culture to take care of guest with their best ability and respect they can give. I have every meal cooked for me and my sisters do all the cleaning afterwards. My clothes are always washed and when I have an important meetings or event to go to my family makes sure my clothes are pressed nice and neat so I can look my best. Yes it can be a bit annoying when I want to make my own food or help around the house but they are treating me like royalty and how can someone really complain about that??
I have a roof over my head and always feel safe. I asked my mom if I could go to the grand opening party for a store up the street and she told me no. I was annoyed at first until I heard about all the drunk guys that were there was even a fight that broke out! I am so glad I avoided that. Sometimes my mom is overprotected like when a car passes I can feel she is worried I will get hit. I joked with her once about how I play at traffic back home and she laughed, now she hesitates to be as paranoid because she knows it is not necessary  We have had a few frustrating moments together with my protection. When I went to Apia she called and called me all day. It was very annoying. After I got home I made fun of the situation saying in a light voice how I almost threw my phone out the window and next time she goes anywhere, "you better not talk to boys and you better call me every hour. If you do not call me I will travel to Apia myself and track you down!." She was laughing and said next time she travels she will leave her mouth at home and not talk to any boys. I think I got my message across without offending her. I know it is her duty to protect me, sometimes it is just hard for me to fully cooperate. I wonder if she ever gets frustrated with me. I woke up the other night to go to the restroom and she got up too making sure I was okay. I would be annoyed if I was her having to get up and me disturbing her sleep.
I have only been living here a month so I am still viewed as a guest. I know overtime it will be easier to do things on my own, after awhile I will be able to make my own meals and have my own routine  I just need to be patient.
I used to have to have someone go with me when I went running. I hated it because running is the time for myself and I would always outrun the people she sent with me. Once I asked if I could go while it was raining and she let me go alone because nobody wants to run in the rain. Another time I asked if I could go running when everyone was busy with chores, she felt obligated to either go with me or let me go alone. Can you guess which one she choose? She is not a big fan of exercise. Ha ha. Finally it is a known thing that I go running alone and she no longer makes people go with me. SUCCESS!
It is all baby steps to find a balance from being treated like a guest and being treated like another member of the family.

The Madisen Rhodes:

How I deal with everything here in Samoa (and in life) is being aware of my attitude and perspective  The number one challenge for me, so far, is my struggle to my independence. I have always been self reliant and getting told what to do/how to do it (especially when it is not fully necessary  or having to report to someone has never been a strong quality of mine.
I have thought about it and if another Volunteer was in the exact same situation as me, it may not even phase them or effect them the same way. Samoa challenges everyone in different ways, how we deal with it I believe will make all the difference in life here. At times I feel like the prisoner but I always manage to take a step back and deal with the situation delicately like the princess. I am taking small steps everyday and being aware of my attitude, trying to see things from their perspective and striving to find a balance between fighting for my "freedom" and being patient. One Baby step towards independence and one giant leap for my sanity.
My running outfit
My Sunday outfit.

View from my palace/prison.

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