My life without Marley.

Having a pet has always been a part of my life, I can’t remember a time where we didn’t have a family dog and or cat. I must admit I do prefer the company of dogs, their loyalty and almost human-like perception of the world intrigues me, far more than a cat’s nonchalance and independence. It gives me a sense of purpose, having an animal rely on your care and attention and what you get back from them makes it all more than worth it. It’s a companionship I have struggled to find in other people.

So now for the first time in my life I am facing the world alone. Without my sidekick always there reassuring me everything will be okay without having to say a word. It’s honestly terrifying. Coming home to a quiet house, waking up in the morning without that warm body next to me waiting patiently to be let outside giving me a reason to get out of bed. It’s not how I expected 2017 to start, I certainly never thought I would be facing the biggest changes in my life without her by my side.

Senseless Loss

So I have to say something, regarding the recent attacks on France.

I’m not an expert on the countries involved French or otherwise, I don’t claim to understand the politics or agenda of the attackers. But I am a person, living now and I feel like I should say something. Please if you do have a point of view or something to educate me on feel free to share because I am very confused at the moment.

Regardless of religion, culture or ethnicity nothing gives someone the right to take away the life of an innocent person. These people who were mowed down in Nice, France while out to watch fireworks on Bastille Day were innocent. There may have been criminals among them, but at that moment in time they were simply there trying to find some happiness in life and enjoy a moment of celebration. I don’t know if it was a lack of education, poor upbringing, mindless acceptance of a violent nature but this was the act of an evil person nonetheless. Whether it was a planned attack or the result of a spontaneous moment of anger, the issue I can’t comprehend is that there are people out there celebrating the violence. Children were killed, sisters, fathers, friends lost their lives because a delusional group of hate mongers’ wanted to make a statement. And what a waste. These people aren’t lawmakers or policy changers we won’t even know all their names because they were just like you and me, everyday people trying to live their lives. They are all important now, because they have become the face of tragedy, they will most likely in time inspire rebellion and a fierce defiance in order to preserve our freedoms but that will never take away the pain of their loved ones.

It made me cry. Thinking how cruel terrorists can be. I know that sounds simple but it’s exactly how I feel when I think about the growing amount of senseless violence that surrounds us. Not just the ones of late, there have been extremists in every religion. As I reflect on the brief moments of our immense history I am capable of remembering all I can see at the moment is the nature of cruelty that has existed. We must all be capable of it, what makes those who value kindness and acceptance turn away from the darkness in themselves? For every Gandhi, Luther King or Marley there is always a Hitler, Hussein or Stalin. I guess at the end of this I weep for humanity, hope for the future and truly wonder are we all capable of evil and don’t realise? Or are we born inherently good and our experiences shape our moral compass?

Silent Battles

The first thing most people get asked when they meet someone new or that they haven’t seen for a while is generally “What do you do for work?” “What have you been doing with yourself?” Now I know these are just polite pleasantries that people feel obliged to say but the implications of WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH YOUR LIFE is the general undertone.

Unfortunately, a lot of people on the end of that loaded question, myself included, don’t have a response. Well, not one that is socially acceptable to say. When it comes to mental health the strides you make and accomplishments you reach are hidden. A recovering drug/alcohol addict has a story to tell, depending on how comfortable they are with the person they are talking with a response like “Well I’m six months sober” is commendable and usually met with a reply like “Well done!” or “Good on you! What a milestone”. That’s amazing by any standards 20/30 years ago society wouldn’t have looked at those people as having accomplished anything, they would’ve been judged for how they let their life get to that point. But slowly people started learning that acceptance and acknowledgement do far more for an addict then shame and condemnation ever did. Anyone coping with or recovering from a mental illness doesn’t yet have the same voice. To recover is by definition ‘a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength’. It’s like mental health and society have this unspoken agreement; we know you’re there but let’s not bring everyone down by taking about it in everyday life okay? Deal. Society is this big, perfect expectation machine that says we only want to hear about what’s acceptable. What kind of car have you bought lately, what neighborhood do you live in or what sort of job do you have? These are all acceptable. So many out there spend their lives battling an internal war that no-one will ever know about.

In a perfect world where I ran into someone I haven’t seen for a while, that isn’t one of the few that I confide in about my anxiety and depression, I would like the conversation to go something like this.

“Hi! It’s been a long time what have you been up to?”

“Well it’s been a struggle but I can actually leave the house most days without being afraid”

or

“I’m proud to say it’s been 3 years since I last considered taking my own life.”

The last one is probably a sensitive subject due to its morbidity but it’s true! And if it wasn’t for the amazing people I have in my life that support me on a daily basis and remind me how far I’ve come I would never truly appreciate what I have achieved. I would see myself the way society does, as a jobless no-hoper that’s nearly ten years out of school with little to show for it.

My mother has always been an advocate for the misunderstood she is one of the most open minded, unconventional people I have ever met and she has always instilled in me that it’s not what you have that matters it’s how you live your life that is a true measure of your success. Compassion, empathy and understanding are all traits that we should impart on those we meet. Indigenous people in our communities are constantly judged for how little they have in comparison to society’s expectations but one of the most profound things I have learned from the Aboriginal culture is their ‘polite pleasantries’ don’t ask what do you have? They ask, where are you from? What part of the country are you from, who is your family? It’s about culture and where you come from not where you’re going. So when I’m feeling down about where my life is headed I take a moment and try to reflect on where I come from. What I have rather than what I want, or expect.

At the end of the day success will always measured by your accomplishments, but every person should hold their head high if they live their life loving and accepting others because that itself is not something everyone looks to have. Which is sad because self-worth shouldn’t be a price tag, it’s like a book a journey, not a competition. I don’t expect a medal or a round of applause for getting out of bed each day, because I know that I am not the only person that deals with mental illness. But just the freedom to be able to talk about what I have been through without pity, judgement or doubt one day is something I look forward to.

Love Hurts

I am a firm believer in unconditional love. No strings attached, if you love someone you accept them for who they are. I’m human and flawed so I mess up and expect things from those I love that I have no right to. But I always come back to my belief, that is no matter how much someone you love fails, irritates or even sometimes unknowingly hurts you that is something you have to learn to forgive. Now I’m not saying be a doormat and let people walk all over you, it’s a two way street if you accept them they must accept you. By accepting each other for who they are and even though there will be times where disagreements arrive, anger and emotion get involved. That doesn’t mean you don’t still TRY to understand each other and at the end of the day know that different perspectives are necessary. If everyone were the same we would never learn, or evolve.

Everyone loves differently expresses it in their own ways and thats fine. But something I can never understand are those people that emotionally blackmail. Like if you don’t meet my expectations we are done. If you don’t agree with me I’ll push you away. If you don’t understand me things are over. And on and on the stories go. That’s not love, thats pure narcissism.

Family, friends, partners, children love comes in many forms. For me there has always been my sister. No matter how many fights we have or the distance that’s between us I know in my heart that we will always be sisters and have love for one another. I am never scared that she will suddenly take that away and cast me off over a disagreement. She is my sister now and forever and we are always there for each other. We are as different as sisters can be sometimes, like it occasionally astounds me what opposites we are. But we always try, especially as we’ve gotten older. There are a lot of times we have let each other down, said the wrong thing and lived completely different lives but when I look back on my life she has been a permanent fixture throughout.

I guess what I’m trying to say by writing this never-ending rant is that don’t let your problems grow bigger than your love for someone. Whoever it is, know that there is going to come a time when everything isn’t peachy but around the corner could be the greatest moments. And to those who think that relationships are disposable I imagine life is pretty lonely all the way up on the pedestal of yours.

Trying

Everyday is a new day, that’s become my mantra of late.

I wake up and try to be positive think of the best outcome and push my automatic negative worst case scenarios away. I seem to have gotten myself in this awful routine of sadness and anxiety, its not constant but it’s always present. It hold me back from so much in my life, I can’t speak for everyone but my anxiety makes me feel so afraid of the most normal things. Like leaving the house for example, I’m not an agoraphobic I still do go out but it terrifies me especially in the beginning. I’ll justify it to myself in the most ridiculous ways;

“It’s not worth it”

“People are just gonna stare at you and think you’re weird”

“I look like shit, how can I possibly go anywhere, how embarrassing”

Embarrassment is a big fear of mine, I don’t know what it is exactly even the slightest awkward encounter like saying the wrong thing.

Lady at the counter: Hello

Me: Good thanks..

Thats at least 45 minutes of berating myself about how stupid I must have seemed to her, when in all reality we shared a quick laugh and she moved on to the next customer all the while probably thinking about how long she has left till her shift ends. But in the moment my brain goes into overdrive telling me how silly I must of looked and I would’ve been better off just staying home.

I go to work everyday, yet every morning I wake up dreading what lies ahead.

I’m not trying to be all woe is me, when I’m in the right state of mind I know how lucky I am, and how grateful I should be that my situation is pretty amazing compared to others. Most people like to remind me of that,

“It’s not that bad”

“You’re overreacting”

And my favourite…

“Calm down”

I hear a quote recently that really resonated with me,

‘Telling someone with anxiety to calm down is like telling a blind person to look harder’

In the moment of panic and the way that I feel at that time, calming down instantly is impossible, I’m getting better at though. So I guess the point of this post and what I’m rambling on about is that I’m trying. Everyday I wake up and I try, and hopefully get a little better at living with anxiety. It ctp6699ctp6699is a part of who I am but it doesn’t define me.

Possible Passport Problems

So I have a complicated last name, not in the way it’s spelt but more in the way I was given it. Neither my Mum or Dad have the same surname as me which I have discovered is frustratingly difficult to explain to the authorities now I’m applying for a passport. In Australia for some reason they have changed the requirements to include anyone born after 1986 has to produce a parents birth certificate for citizenship reasons.

So my Dad’s last name is the same as his Father, who for the record is the ultimate dead beat dad, a trait my Dad thankfully did not carry on. So when I was born my Mum had the touching idea that they would give me my paternal Grandma’s maiden name with all the intentions for my Dad to follow suit and change his name to match.

25 years later it still hasn’t happened, chronic procrastination seems to be a quality I have inherited from my parents. Now I have never had an issue with having a different last name I actually love it, I also have the same first name as my Grandma, she was an amazing lady who sadly died when my Dad was really young. So I feel like my name is significant in my Dad’s life, he doesn’t have much to remember her by. I am one of those things he says, I inherited her name and my little sister her image.

This has given me a strong sense of self and I love it when the argument of marital name change comes up, I often hear the comment “If a woman doesn’t change her last name to her husbands how will the children feel growing up with a Mum who has a different name?” Well I can tell you from experience it doest matter one little bit. Let’s be real what are your parents names really to you other than ‘Mum’ or ‘Dad’?

Now Mum’s bilogical Father a drinker, abuser and all around shit human being hurt my Nana so bad she ran away from him when my Mum and Uncle were babies. Shortly after she met the incredible man I consider my Granddad and married him after he had adopted her children without a second thought and given them his last name. But for some reason my Mum’s birth certificate still says her birth name, which obviously isn’t mentioned on any of my official documents.

Trying to get across this convoluted story and importance of my name to the lady at the Post Office is  a challenge to say the least. After ten minutes of rambling she sighs and looks at me with disinterested eyes and says “There’s nothin’ I can do hun, I can’t tick the box till you prove to me their your parents.” So short of inviting her over for Christmas to see the arguments and jokes we share like only family can I’m now in the process of tracking down my Mum’s change of name documents or anything I can legally use as proof. Oh and did I mention that I’m a champion procrastinator? I’m due to leave the country in less than 2 months.

 

mūtātiōnis

Change can mean a lot of things for people. It can mean a new house, a different job, a healthier lifestyle, a relationship beginning or ending or the $2.30 you get back from the cashier for the fourth coffee you’ve had today.

Okay the last one was a bit trivial but still, how do you actually make that move, towards the things that you want that make tomorrow not just another today.

I want to change so badly but I just keep doing the same thing I did yesterday. I have so many lists of all the things I want out of life but I always go to bed thinking ‘Okay, tomorrow I’ll start”.

I want to write more, watch TV less, cook new meals, quit smoking, cut out caffeine be productive just to name a few.

But as I sit here writing for the first time in weeks with the TV on in the back ground eating salt and vinegar chips with a smoke in the ashtray and a coffee next to me I feel comfortable. Maybe that’s it, I don’t want to change because it means doing something different and that scares me.

I hate fear almost as much as I hate guilt, such useless emotions really. Effectively they are like the invisible barrier that holds you back from doing what you want or saying how you feel. I know they are necessary they define your limits, they are the little voices that tell you stealing is wrong and hurting other people is not a nice thing to do. But when you are overwhelmed with these feelings its crippling.

I fear leaving the house most days but then I feel guilty for letting people down when I don’t show up. It’s a constant battle in my mind and no matter which way I go one of them comes in to remind me of what I could’ve done or should’ve said.

I know logically it’s pointless to beat myself up, but I can’t help what a lifetime of anxiety has taught me.

The older I get the harder it is to change, so I’ll take my $2.30 and drink my coffee on my own and think about what could’ve been, maybe next time I’ll get decaf.

Not A Good One

Today is a bad day. No specific reason, just a bad day.

I know as I say that countless people are suffering unimaginably in so many different ways, I’ve thought about a lot of them.

But that just makes it worse, here I sit, with a roof over my head food in my fridge and my dog at my feet and all I can think about is how much I hurt.

It’s not always like this, some days I wake up and go about my day and feel fine, but then there are days like today.

I woke up with the sweats, confused and upset for no real reason my body was set to panic. Then everything started to close in, my mind was racing thinking of the unending ways getting out of bed was going to be the end of me.

What if I’ve fucked up so badly at work I lose my job?

What if I get in a car accident on the way to work?

What if today is the last day I’ll have one of my loved ones around?

What if I leave the house today and by doing that I welcome the any number of disasters I have thought of happening.

Then the depression comes, that miserable cloud of what’s the point? We’re all gonna die sometime anyway.. Why do I even bother?

This has all happened in the span of about 5 minutes after opening my eyes.

It’s suffocating, I feel the pressure in my chest the tears in my eyes the only thing I manage to do before I dissolve is send my boss a text.

Sorry not feeling well. Can’t make it in today.

Then that just opens the floodgates, what if she’s really pissed off right now? How will I explain myself tomorrow when I walk in with no physical signs that I was unable to work today.

Not feeling well, that’s the understatement of the century.

Where do I go from here.. I’m actually surprised at myself I’ve never written about this before and somehow putting this all down is a relief. Although it does make it all seem very trivial..

I’m just going to post this now otherwise I’m definitely going to delete it, and if there’s one thing I have to start doing more of it’s what I love, writing.

Lets try to take it back before it all went wrong..

I don’t listen to music…

That may sound strange but I just don’t. Not that I can’t stand it, under the right circumstances I will enjoy having a dance with my friend to a repetitive string of lyrical innuendos and electronic bass or reciting a lyric (in my head of course) that’s playing on a petrol station radio, I just don’t go out of my way to listen to it any more.

Maybe I’ve grown tired of hearing the same studio manufactured beat with rhymes like “Yo! La Freak! La Freak! Yo, yo, yo, let’s go!” sung by people that are produced and marketed by the mainstream industry. Or maybe it is a side effect of my trouble filled teenage years, I’ve attached myself emotionally to almost all of my favourite ‘oldies‘. For some reason though the memories they give me hurt, either I long for a time before I had lost touch with important people or I just wish I could go back and redo moments I should have long buried by now.

I know, I know, why don’t I step away from the top 40 and find some authentic artists; my mother is an avid Triple J fan and is constantly sending me songs she has discovered by local up-and-comers. I excuse it with laziness but really I just can’t hear anything over my own self-deprecating thoughts.

My IPhone has had the same playlist on it for years, I don’t update it I don’t even really use it and anytime I hear a new song that brings a response out of I me I soon forget it and only in times of desperation will I seek them out again. **Moments of desperation include but are not limited to; anxiety filled flashes where everything seems to be spiralling (most of the time my boyfriend can sense my mood before I even know it and he has a unique way of finding a song to completely distract me from my descent) And driving, I have found, as a new driver who has put off going for the test going on 6 years now I cannot drive in silent tension, music seems to put me at ease.**

So I am the first person to admire how music affects us as humans, it can provoke distinctive feelings that each of us understand in our own exclusive way. But as hard as I try I cannot pinpoint the moment where I gave up on finding joy in music. So I am going to, right here and now, promise myself and anyone that is fortunate enough to stumble upon this bounty of a blog.. That I will do everything I can to just let go and not only appreciate but really take pleasure in good music again.

This is an amazing Australian Charity that provides free music tuition to underprivileged kids, what a precious gift and life skill to give.

http://acmf.com.au/

Children.. What are they good for?

“Oh my gosh, you will never believe what Joseph did yesterday… That’s nothing my Sophie did that 3 weeks ago.. What? That’s not healthy you can’t let them.. But he just won’t stop crying I’ve tried everything.”

Parents.

And the incessant need to talk about their children.

I sit there thinking, yeah I could participate.. I could also push toothpicks under my fingernails.

That comment that simultaneously puts you down and pushes you out, it’s like the scissor kick of the parental world.

 “You’ll understand when you’re a mother”

(Where are those damn toothpicks?!)

As soon as I mention the little person in my life I’m most proud of I get those strange looks of confusion, oh yeah I’m the weirdo for gloating about how my dog just learned a new trick.

That’s an actual accomplishment, I taught an animal that has no understanding of the English language to retrieve an item I threw, just for fun

Ohhh Sally nearly took her first step?.. And at only 10 months old?! How interesting she’s doing the exact thing that pretty much every species has down pat in the first days of their life.. Only after ten months of sitting around thinking about it.

Please my dog could run circles around your kid, literally.

(I can also leave her at home alone while I go out to a nice dinner and movie without Child Services breathing down my neck)

Now I can put up with all that talk about what their child is eating, playing with and stuffing up their nose but there is one thing that I will not stand for.

Children’s birthday parties.

Not the fun ones from like 8 and up, they’re awesome, jumping castles and face painting that’s just plain fun.

I mean like the ones up until then. When the kid is just realising that it has toes and is fascinated by the crumpling of paper.

There is nothing more annoying and boring than those birthday parties.. And I mean nothing. I would rather listen to Hannah Montana recite the periodic table than go to one. But for some reason it’s an expectation of every mother that you attend a party for their child that won’t ever remember you being there.

You could give the kid an empty chip packet and they would be just as impressed.

Rather than spend weeks of your time and hundreds of dollars, organising food the kid can’t eat yet, music they can’t understand and decorations they certainly couldn’t give a shit about. All so you can invite your friends to rub their faces in the fact that you made this borderline appealing offspring.

Again women have been having children for literally thousands of years what you’re doing here isn’t new. At least the women back in previous centuries saw children for what they were, unavoidable repercussions of obligatory marriages. I would put money on the fact that if you showed those chicks a form of contraception there would be a lot less of us today. Let’s face it education and life experiences beat the possibility of dying from childbirth any day.

Now for most of my life I have been pretty sure that this is how it’s going to be. Just me. The only problem with my logic now is the fact that my boyfriend has always wanted a family. He completely understands my view on this matter and we have even had the dreaded talk. I told him how I felt and he explained his thoughts and we sat there in silence for a really long time. Waiting for the other one to say the obvious. Maybe we aren’t right for each other. Just as unfair as it is for him to expect me to want kids I can see how it’s also really unfair for me to ask him to give up the family he always dreamed of. Just as I thought that horrible reality was going to break us apart he said the most selfless and loving sentence anyone has ever said to me.

“I love you, the you right in front of me, that I have loved for the past 5 years way more than I love the possible child in my imagination.”

Right then at that moment I had an earth shattering realisation. If he is prepared to entertain the idea of not having a child because of how much he loves me than surely I could at least think about maybe, possibly one day giving in to this motherhood cult following. Compromise we said, yeah well I guess only time will tell if I’m up to the task. The one thing we both agreed on is that there is no way we are having this child until we are 100% ready and lived our lives as independent adults as much as we can.

I can assure you though that if the day ever comes there will be none of this stay at home mum stuff going on. As soon as that kids out I’m back to work enjoying my adult conversations and career building achievements and my partner is more than happy to stay home dealing with the poo , snot and regular feeding of that future nightmare, I joke, I mean bundle of joy…

You may think I’m being a bit harsh or over the top but I beg to differ. I am only 24 and I cannot stand anymore shocked and pitiful looks when I say “No, I don’t want to have children” with the almost guaranteed response “Don’t worry you’ll change that maternal instinct will kick in eventually”. What is this expectation of society that just because I have a vagina that I should have an ingrained drive to procreate, or gush at the sight of every fat-faced snotty nosed kid that I come across? I’m sorry but it was a waste of time giving me a uterus God, you probably would have been better off giving it to my boyfriend.