What Sanni Gives Me
It was highlighted in the Puppy & the Parrot post that I wrote a lot about how he affected what happened to me because of his visa situation but very little about what he’s given me. I think it’s important to understand why I’ve been so supportive of Sanni and his football when any other woman would’ve walked away as soon as things got tough. It has little to do with the football because I know next to nothing about the sport but a lot to do with the person he is and how that person has changed me.
There’s a difference between having confidence and having self confidence. I haven’t always been a confident person, in fact, I was that kid who was teased in primary school, who didn’t have friends. When I got to high school I decided on a ‘shrugged shoulders’ attitude. I didn’t belong to any one group but had individual friends from each. It’s true even today that I don’t have a circle of friends but individuals across the globe. What this has produced is someone with the confidence to hold my own in large environments but feels most comfortable in small groups.
That’s confidence, but it’s not self confidence, because it isn’t en masse. I cannot do it in any environment with anyone. I cannot be myself or relax everywhere I go and in instances where I meet a lot of people at once I am always really selective about who I’ll talk in depth to, what I’ll say or how I’ll speak.
Sanni has shown me another side. He is brimming with self confidence. It always makes me smile to watch him approach a total stranger and strike up a conversation in his happy, polite, confident manner. It’s easy to stand by his side and feed off his exuberance because he loves meeting people and being social. Me, I enjoy it, but I don’t thrive on it the way he does. For him, there is no fear. He’s always been the popular kid, well known, if not quite famous in his local area for his football prowess, so he’s been able to smile readily and feel sure in his actions. Me, not so much. I’m not sure that fear of being shot down is something he even considers.
Just yesterday he told me an example of this. He was at the training field with his friends, although not there to train he likes to go to ensure he can be seen and meet the right people, when he noticed a small group of Thai men looking over at him and talking.
Now, had this have been me I would’ve questioned what they were talking about, and felt fear and confrontation. I’m not ordinarily a negative person but that would’ve been my first impression. But not Sanni. Sanni told me how he smiled across the distance and simply, and I say simply because for him he makes hard stuff look easy, walked up and said hi. Through broken English one of the guys asked Sanni questions about why he was at the field, if he played and what position. This opened an opportunity to Sanni to get introduced to a coach who wants to invite him to trial. Had Sanni not been proactive and self confident he may have lost a possible opportunity to get signed.
I take a bit of his self confidence with me now and exude as much as I can with his smile and open approach method.
I’m hesitant to talk directly about religion because it’s such a heated, taboo topic but there’s something about Sanni’s belief system, not being Muslim, but the way he believes in his God that has opened me to the concept of believing in something greater than ourselves.
I was raised atheist until my mother began to study Pagan beliefs. She introduced these concepts to me and for the first time I recognised something that worked for me. While I do not enlist in Pagan beliefs I do respect the world around me in the same way and I respect both the male and female entities of God and Goddess. What I’ve never accepted is the devout religions like Christianity that preach only one way to believe.
When I first began dating Sanni that’s what I thought Islam was. But it’s not. Forget the devout extremists, what I’ve learned is that it really is up to the individual to interpret the Koran. Sanni has shown me through his rituals of praying at dawn and respecting Ramadan is that it is about stability, believing in God for him is about feeling sure-footed when all the world’s an earthquake.
Many times he’s told me, ‘it’s in God’s hands’. At first I found this to be a cop-out. Just something he would say so as to not take responsibility or be active, but now I’ve realise it’s about worrying only about those things we can directly change or impact and leaving the rest to manifest when it can. It’s letting go of things so the powers that be can do what they need to do.
I’m a firm believer of trusting in the process of life but see, believing and acting, totally different in reality. He practices this belief and has shown me that it doesn’t have to be a faith in God that helps you to relax but simply understanding that we cannot control every element of life, some things you just have to let be.
Male and Female roles
When we walk down the street he walks on the side the cars pass. In bed he sleeps closest to the door (took me a while to get used to that). He drives the scooter because he’s stronger than me with two or more people. He always looks for ways to protect me, but it’s more than that too. He takes care of me because he feels it’s his role as a man to do so.
I’ve mentioned before what my parents roles were like, mum worked and dad stayed at home. This means that I never developed the common male/ female roles that other families have. I’ve needed to learn that men are the providers and women take care of the home.
It was exceptionally hard for Sanni to not be able to provide for me and it took a while for me to understand where his pressures were coming from. He’s been raised in a family where his mother was always home and his step father worked so he’s used to a woman having certain duties in the home. Duties I wasn’t willing to do because I was working. We bargained. During the week while I worked he prepared lunch for us. I would prepare dinner. On the weekends I’d cook. We’d both clean. When we had friends over, I’d host, he’d entertain.
What has been interesting, and something I didn’t expect at all, was the fact that I liked providing a comfortable home for him. I work as a freelance writer when I’m not at my full time work so I like to be home a lot. When Sanni and I are living together again, when he’s working full time and when we’ve reached a point of financial security that doesn’t require me to work then I am looking forward to not having to.
I want to be the house wife and I want to be able to raise his children and be there for them in a way my own mother wasn’t able to. My mum got stretched to the limits by having to work and be the mother to four children, she fulfilled an enormous task and did a wonderful job but I know it would’ve been easier on her had Dad worked more. And that’s what I want for my children. I have a lot of respect for stay-at-home mothers. Many people think they just cook and clean, and watch daytime television but I have met some amazing entrepreneurial women who can venture into their own goals because they’re given just that bit more freedom to do so.
Helping Sanni achieve his football goals helps me in the long run. So you see, and I say this with splash of sarcastic irony, I’m not so selfless after all.
Attention to Detail
There’s a lot more to Sanni then the outgoing, friendly person that he comes across as. There is a lot of wisdom and depth that’s hard to define. I think it’s because he’s really observant of the people around him. He knows me intimately because he pays attention and listens, even when I think he’s not. He sees even without being shown and not only does he learn what I like but he remembers right at the right time.
He also believes in me in a way only my mother has done before. When I met him I was incredibly unsure of myself (not that I ever let it be known, he could see it), I questioned everything, and had a hard time making a decision but he taught me to trust my instincts because he trusts himself. Some of this falls back to his faith but it’s also who he is. He rests on his gut feelings about things and knows that we’re only given challenges we’re strong enough to bear the burden of. For this reason he constantly pushes my comfort zone because he knows I need to be challenged and he never lets me get away with anything.
To give you an example, when I was at my worst in Cambodia with the manic depression and crying, I would let loose on him because he was the closest person to me. He would always cop it in good grace, never biting back or antagonising me further. He knew I wasn’t myself but reacting to the stressful circumstances. Instead, he’d bide his time until I calmed down and he’d give me specific examples of things I did and how they made him feel. He is gentle like that and supportive when I need it most.
So you see… He gives me his all so the least I can do is the same.