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.

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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.