My Son is Different

This morning I FaceTimed my son to see how he was enjoying his Easter break away with his father (my ex).  They have gone interstate, to a car show — an event that I had always insisted neither of my children would ever attend.  But this year, a little boy, desperate to spend as much time with his father as possible, nagged me into allowing him to go.  After our FaceTime conversation, I have realised that my initial feelings towards this event (and others like it), were founded.

‘How’s your holiday going, mate?’ I asked him.  ‘Yeah good’, he replied — with the usual enthusiasm of a ten year old whose mother is invading his play time.  ‘What did you do last night?’ I asked.  ‘I was doing shots of lemonade at the bar’, was his reply.  Mortified at his response, I frowned and asked ‘you were doing what?‘  ‘I got to do shots of lemonade at the bar’ he answered defiantly.  My jaw dropped and I hustled to get myself together, trying not to react to his statement.  He could see I was annoyed and flippantly said ‘yeah, so what?’ in reaction to my disapproving facial expression.  I quickly changed the subject as my stomach churned with anxiety and a sudden desire to vomit.  I smiled and wished him a happy day ahead before ending the call and sitting in silence, appalled by what I had just heard.  So what?  I hear you ask, as you read this, because I know that this story will bring ridicule and accusations of over-sensitivity, or prudishness.  It will have you calling me a ‘goody-goody’ or ‘uptight’.  You will think I should ‘let it go’ or ‘loosen up’.  Maybe you see no issue with what I heard this morning.  Maybe you let your kids do this exact same thing, while you’re all enjoying your drinks while on holidays.  But you see, this is different because this is my son.  And my son, is the son of an alcoholic.

For nearly three decades, I abused alcohol.  For nearly three decades, I put my health and my life on the line.  For nearly three decades, I suffered physical injuries after excessive drinking, including broken bones, massive facial injuries, alcohol poisoning and more.  For nearly three decades, I put myself into situations that could have ended my life.  I passed out in my own vomit, I passed out in bath tubs, I woke up in places I don’t recall even going to, with people I had no recollection of meeting.  I risked the lives of those around me by behaving in a way that could have hurt so many.  For nearly three decades, I lived in hell.    So before you call me prudish or tell me that I’m being over-sensitive, you need to realise that for my son, this is different.   My son is both genetically and environmentally predisposed to going down this exact same path, and for my son, I want things to be different.

Growing up in my family, my Mum rarely drank and my Dad would have a couple of beers at night, which seemed pretty normal to me.  I don’t recall ever seeing Mum drunk and Dad would only get tipsy and giggly at social events like Christmas or Grand Final Day or perhaps when we were away on holidays.  So even though alcohol wasn’t abused in my family, it was definitely a ‘normal’ part of life.  After work you drank beer, at Christmas you opened bottles of wine.  At parties there were buckets of ice, filled with alcohol that people helped themselves to and on holidays, drinking beer at lunchtime was normal.  So when I was given a chance to experiment with alcohol, in a ‘safe environment’ as a teen, nobody gave it a second thought.  What they didn’t realise (and couldn’t have, as I was adopted), was that given my genetic loading, with 3 previous generations (at least) comprising of multiple cases of alcoholism, that early experimentation with alcohol would lead to me living in the grips of addiction for more than half of my life.

Statistically, according to the British Journal of Pharmacology, relatives of alcoholics, are four times more likely to develop alcohol and addiction issues.   Other research shows that genetics can be responsible for about half the risk of a person developing alcoholism and other addiction issues, with the remainder of the determining factors coming from genetic and environmental interaction as well as environment, itself.  Environment, role modelling and how we see our peers and parents behaving, most certainly plays a huge role in how we develop our relationship with alcohol as we grow.  The importance of what adolescents see as ‘normal’ has been shown to have more of an impact on their behaviours than peer pressure.  So what do you want your children to think is ‘normal’?  I certainly don’t want my son thinking that standing around a a bar sinking shots and getting shit-faced is something that should be considered ‘normal’.  And if he’s pretending to do shots at ten years of age, what exactly will he be doing at fifteen?  Medical research also shows that early initiation to alcohol may adversely impact on brain development as well as leading to mental and physical health issues in adulthood.  However, while I’m on my statistical soapbox, evidence also shows that any alcohol use by parents will almost certainly increase the chances of children experimenting with alcohol and while moderate alcohol use (such as a wine over dinner, or for a celebration etc) may not carry great risk, a child witnessing problematic drinking by a parent, will almost certainly increase the risk for that child.

Alcohol is linked to 5,000 deaths and over 150,000 hospitalisations each year in Australia.    Yet we continue to condone it’s use, misuse and abuse with tens of thousands of Australians misusing alcohol each and every day.  Methamphetamine related deaths pale in comparison with statistics showing that in 2017, a total of 280 deaths were caused by ice use.  The media has positioned the use of illicit drugs in such a way that as a society, we see alcohol as less of a risk than say, ice.  In this way, we see no problem in the daily misuse and abuse of alcohol, in our homes, in public and in front of our children who learn from us, not by what we say but by what we do.  We are relieved when people (potentially, our children’) are ‘only drunk’ because at least they’re not using ice.  We, as a society, laugh about drunken injuries and mishaps, seeing it as no issue and just part of life.  In the three plus years I’ve been sober, I’ve realised just how problematic and far reaching this issue is and frankly, it is mortifying.  

I don’t care if I come across as ‘prudish’, ‘over-sensitive’ or ‘uptight’.  Nor do I care if you disagree with the way I view alcohol or the fact that I will do whatever it takes to prevent my children from experimenting with it before the age of 18, because the thing is, most of you reading this are lucky enough never to have lived with addiction.  For me, the only thing worse than having gone through the hell that I have endured, would be to see one of my children going through the same thing.  What if they aren’t as lucky as I was — and it was pure luck — and they don’t wake up after passing out in their own vomit.  What if they DO injure or kill themselves, or someone else, while driving under the influence?  What if someone hurts them because they have made a poor decision about the people they decide to go home with?  What if they die?

My son already has the odds stacked against him, so forgive me for not finding it even remotely amusing when adults are encouraging the ten year old son of an alcoholic (or any child, for that matter) to do ‘shots of lemonade’ at a bar.

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Thank You

It takes a lot of courage for me to get into my ‘activewear’ of whatever the fuck you call it nowadays. It’s no Lululemon, Lorna Jane or Under Armour, because those brands don’t make my size — you know, ‘plus size’, or as I call it, ‘fat chick clothes’. I mean, why would they? It seems only reasonable to assume that FAT people don’t need to exercise, right? Anyway, I digress. So, as I was saying, it takes me a lot of courage to step out in my exercise gear (top brand stuff — Target, Big W and K-Mart — because those stores know that FAT people exercise too!) because I know what I look like and it’s not an overly attractive sight seeing me in skin tight leggings, even if I do my best to cover my the cellulite riddled thighs with a little skirt thing I’ve had in my drawer since my son was born 10 years ago. But for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to get out and go for a walk each day. Most days I’ve done it and I feel so much better for it, both physically and mentally.

Since being away on holidays with my family, I’ve been out walking each day, along the beach walking path, down to a cafe, where I treat myself to a coffee before walking back. Each day I’ve tried my best to ignore the looks I’ve been getting from people along the way and especially those sitting at the cafe, sipping their lattes, when I wander up the steps and ask for a table. I’ve done my best to ignore the ever so subtle remarks they make to their friends, before they all turn and look at me then quickly turn back to giggle under their breath. I’ve tried my best to sit down and enjoy my coffee, just like everyone else, while desperately trying to hide my body, which doesn’t fit as neatly on the bar stools as other people’s bodies. I’ve tried, but it’s incredibly hard. I try to hold my head up high as I walk up to the counter to pay, knowing full well that people are muttering things behind my back and at the very least, staring in disgust at the FAT chick who dared to leave the privacy of her apartment and venture out in her fucking activewear in a desperate attempt to make some positive changes. I walk out, staring at the ground, wishing I could suddenly be invisible.

For the people reading this who have never experienced being ‘FAT’ or who have never been part of a minority, you may think me paranoid, but at 43 years of age, having always been the FAT chick, I can assure you, that is not the case. Over the years, there have been countless occasions where I have been on the receiving end of random abuse from passers by in cars or fellow pedestrians, as I’ve been walking along, minding my own business. Over the years, people haven’t hesitated in telling me how unacceptable they think I look. At 15 years of age, a friend said to me, ‘you’d be a real glamour if you weren’t so FAT’. Who needs enemies, right?

It would actually seem that being FAT is some kind of unforgivable sin, something that is so absolutely horrendous that people live their entire lives, trying not to gain weight. Even a kilogram here or there is some kind of life altering catastrophe, something that must be changed immediately, lest they be seen as FAT. The conversations I hear, on a daily basis, would lead me to believe that there is absolutely, positively NOTHING worse in this world than being overweight. I hear people talking about their own weight and notice their obsession over needing to lose a kilo because they celebrated their birthday over the weekend and ate cake. I hear people telling their children to stop eating or they will ‘get a fat tummy’ or that their 10 year old needs to ‘go for a run’ because their tummy has gotten big. For those parents guilty of such comments, do your children a favour and educate yourselves around body image and eating disorders and how comments like those can do unimaginable amounts of damage, leading to lifelong struggles.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be FAT either. I don’t want to be unhealthy, or struggle in my daily life to do things because it’s harder for me carrying all this extra weight. I absolutely, positively don’t want my kids to get FAT either, because I want them to be healthy and happy and to live long and happy lives so I understand why people worry about it. Nobody wants to be unhealthy or unhappy or the victim or ridicule, part of a minority. Nobody wants to have to wear ugly clothes in FAT sizes, or feel uncomfortable in their own skin but our obsession with our bodies is far beyond these things. Our obsession with appearance and our idea of what is and isn’t acceptable, has gone way beyond worrying about our health and happiness. To us, to our society, being FAT is the epitome of laziness, unworthiness and is pure UGLINESS.

For what it’s worth, I’m not out here in my fucking activewear trying to get skinny and fit your mould, because it’s not something I will ever be. Sadly, even if I were to lose dozens of kilos, you guys would still see me as FAT and dread looking like me. So forgive me if I don’t believe you when you tell me I’m ‘beautiful, just the way I am’ when you’re doing everything in your power to avoid looking like me. To all those people who mock me when I’m out walking, trying to be a healthier, happier human, FUCK YOU ALL. The way you make me feel some days, is enough to send me into a terrible space of self hatred and worthlessness that can last for days, impacting my entire world.

So with all that said, I’m heading out again, in my fucking activewear, to go for a walk, to try and hold my head high, as I pass by all the judgement filled assholes who, if they took 5 seconds to get to know me, might actually find that I’m a generous, kind and super courageous human who has overcome huge obstacles in my 43 years.

Life & Time

In a way, I hope today is one of those moments in my life, wherefrom pivotal changes will develop.  I hope today is one that I will hold in my memory forever and use it to foster the ongoing strength and courage required to be the best person I can be.  A happy, healthy woman, a caring and nurturing mama, who has time for the little things and a kind and generous human, unconcerned with material possessions, or the pursuit of monetary wealth.  I hope today will change who I am, for the rest of my life.

For many months, my beautiful cousin, affectionately know to me as ‘Aunty’, has been fighting the most monumental battle of her life, a battle FOR her life, against Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.  For the best part of a year, she has undergone some of the most intensely horrific medical treatments, leaving her body ravaged and a mere shell of what it once was.  But throughout every treatment, throughout every infection, every setback, every hideously frightening moment, she has held her head high, her hopes even higher and has looked only forward, staying forever positive.

As a child, she lived with our family, while she studied in Melbourne, away from her rural Victorian town.  My fondest memories of those years were hanging out with her and her friends, like a little sister would, listening to music and generally feeling cool.  I remember vividly her singing to me the one hit wonder, ‘Black Is Black’ and Kiss’ ‘I Was Made For Loving You Baby’, in the bedroom of her family home.  More memories of her and her brother, chasing me through their home, wearing hideous dress up masks they had stashed in toy boxes and going down to the farm to ride on Uncle Ned’s red truck.  As I grew older, she moved back to the country and I often went down to stay with her over school holidays.  She’d take me out for dinner, we’d shop, we’d watch movies and mostly, we’d laugh.  Further down the track, she taught me to drive in her Ford Telstar!  Ever so patient and and encouraging.

As I became an adult, I continued to visit and for a time, lived with her at her home on the coast, at the back of a petrol station she was running with her family.  Those years,  were filled with hilarity, ridiculousness and story telling.  We’d buy cheap, pink champagne, listen to offensive comedians on tape and sit for hours, well into the night, talking about everything and nothing and laughing our heads off.  No matter how much champagne was consumed, she was always the sensible one, knowing when was a reasonable time to go to bed and always making sure I got into mine.  She often recounted the story of the night some local lads had set fire to the huge wheelie bins at the side of the store.  She’d been alerted by smoke and noise and as she lifted the roller door to see what all the fuss was about, was greeted in her ‘grandma nightie’ by a dozen hot firemen, who had just extinguished the fire.  I’m not sure what made her laugh more, the embarrassment of being caught in her best nightie, or the fact that I’d slept through the entire incident, smoke and all.  ‘Katie’ she said, ‘how you ever slept through that ruckus and the smoke wafting through your window, I’ll never know’.

On another occasion, I decided it would be a fabulous idea to take a drive out to one of the isolated indigenous communities, ‘just to say hi’.  She didn’t agree but came along anyway.  I pulled over in the middle of nowhere to have a cigarette and upon getting back into the car, pretended it wouldn’t start.  At first she giggled, then the giggle got a little more nervous before she got truly serious and started to panic.  Miraculously (wink wink), I got the car going and we drove off into the night, in fits of laughter.  Twenty years later, she still tightened her lips and shook her head when remembering that story.  I have always threatened to take her back, just for fun.  Moving forward, she married  her gorgeous fella and it was an honour to be asked to be her bridesmaid — even if she was going make us wear navy blue.  I recall her saying it was as close to black as I was going to get.  In the years following, I was able to hold their beautiful babies when they came into the world.  First a little boy, followed by a little girl, both of whom have grown into absolutely delightful young humans.  How could they not, with Aunty on the job.

Fun times were had in Melbourne, too, once they moved back.  An epic night at the Elsternwick FC with her hubby’s team, lead to a riotous trip home, with my cousin very soberly at the wheel.  I’d spotted a reasonably large rock at a worksite on the side of the road and insisted she stop for me to bring it home as a housewarming gift for them both. The rock lived in their garden for many years and although they have since moved, I’m sure it’s still sitting there.  Soberly at the wheel — seems to be an accurate way to describe how this proud and strong woman has lived her life.  Even during treatment and lengthy hospital stays, soberly at the wheel was how she rolled.

Only days ago we learned that the recent stem cell treatment had failed.  When we chatted last week, she said ‘It’s not good Katie, it’s not good, it’s bad’ but she knew there were still options.  We made plans to have a coffee and go through the old photos I have of her children and I promised her some giggles courtesy of my online dating adventures.  This afternoon, my Mum called to say that she’d suffered an aneurysm overnight.  This evening I spoke to her hubby who said that all treatment had ceased, given the risk of further bleeds and that tomorrow, he would be speaking with the palliative care team to work out how best to move forward.  I had no words for him, as he spoke through tears.  ‘It’s so fucked up’ was all I could manage.  He agreed.  So as I sit here tonight, she lies in a hospital bed, in the middle of a busy city, her body, only a shadow of what it was less than twelve months ago.  But not that soul, that soul is still soberly at the wheel.

Today I realised that while I’m caught up casting hatred and contempt at my body, there’s a beautiful, strong woman lying in a hospital bed tonight, who would happily swap her sick and devastated body for mine.  The body that I have hated so passionately, for so long, that I treat so terribly, that I poisoned for so many years, would be a miracle for her.  Today I realised that I have been taking for granted so very much, despite my best efforts to be grateful for all that my life has bestowed upon me.  Today I realised that if I am to learn anything from this incredibly heartbreaking time, it must be now.  Now is the time to make changes, to shift attitudes, to practice gratitude and to become conscious of how very blessed I am.  Now is the time to stop worrying about reflections in the mirror and to relish the miracle that is my body, my healthy, strong body.  Now is the time to slow down, to let go, to love more.  Now is the time to hold my babies close and make the most of every single moment.

I am far from perfect and have no doubt that from time to time, I will lose focus, but today, I have made a promise to myself to do my very best to make positive changes and to be vigorously mindful of the abundance of blessings that surround me and mine.  I will do my best to remember that not everyone has time, not everyone will get to hold their children’s children and not everyone has the privilege of growing old.  I will do my best, to make a change for me, for my children and for my beautiful cousin who is fighting for every single moment.

Soberly at the wheel, Aunty.

 

 

Fake It

When I had PND, my health nurse said to me, ‘make sure you look at her, give her eye contact, constantly, force yourself to smile, even though you don’t feel it’.  I remember this advice vividly and sadly, nearly 6 years down the track, I’m sitting here doing that exact same thing.  My beautiful baby is home from school today, maybe sick, maybe not sick enough to be home, but either way, she’s here and she wants to build Lego.  As for me, I am sick and have been for the past 4 days.  I can’t think straight, I can’t concentrate, I’m dizzy and light headed, I’m so sad that at some moments during the day, I wish I wasn’t here.  Yesterday I was so agitated that I had a dissociative episode — not uncommon for me when I’m under pressure.  My brain just couldn’t cope and it shut down.  It’s the body’s way of keeping you going, keeping you alive, by just shutting down and shutting off.  But that doesn’t make it any less frightening.  So I’m faking it.

I’ve done school drop off, I’ve showered, I’ve done all my Mum jobs (apart from tidying the house) and now I’m just trying to get through the next couple of days.  This will be gone as quickly as it came, once I get my period.  Too much information?  Who cares.  This is my life and has been for a very long time.  Every 23 days, pretty much without exception, I go from being a normal, happy, loving, kind human being to wishing I was dead and being completely unable to function.  Getting out of bed is a monumental effort.  The thought of making school lunches will set off panic attacks and having to leave the house?  Fuck.  Every 23 days, I sit and cry and then berate myself for feeling the way I do.  You ungrateful bitch, you selfish, fat, ugly woman.  You don’t deserve to be here, you don’t deserve your beautiful family or anything that you have.  You are worthless, you are broken.

When I can tap into logic during these times, there are glimpses of reality that try to tell me that this will pass, that this is NOT my fault, that I am NOT being selfish, that I am worthy and that my beautiful children have a wonderful, loving mama.  But those moments of logic and insights into reality are few and far between and these 5 or 6 days of living hell, feel like an eternity.  Some months are worse than others, like this month for instance.  Events of yesterday set off anger in me that usually I would deal with and respond to in a reasonably ‘Kate-like’ (perhaps not always reasonable) manner but on top of this hell, control is lost.  I may still feel my anger is validated but the lack of control in how my body and mind responds, is frightening.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d still be voicing my opinions but the feelings inside me wouldn’t be pushing me to the point of a tightening throat, a pounding heart, a sweating brow and feelings of dissociation.

I’m whinging and moaning and feeling sorry for myself because I’m going through this but if I’m honest, I’m not doing everything I possibly can to help improve things.  Diet for one, is a huge factor in mental health and for months (many, many months) now, my diet has consisted of coffee in the day, with very little to no food, then maybe something to eat after dinner, which typically is never a good choice.  Aren’t Cheerios a food group?  I can’t stand to feel food in my stomach and so that in itself is another issue to deal with.  I’m drinking too much coffee — but fuck me, I’ve got nothing else — I’m not putting any good things into my body and I’m not getting out and exercising like I should be but when I feel like I shouldn’t even be present on this earth, exercise and healthy eating are the last things on my mind.

So in a day or two, when this has passed, maybe I’ll try my best to make some positive changes, try to do ‘the right thing’ by my body and my mind.  For today, however, I’m doing my very best.  I’m faking my smiles and feigning enjoyment in life, when really, I want to be in bed, I want to be held and told that it will be okay.  I want to know that I am not alone in this fucking hell of (probably) hormone related depression.  At 2.30pm I will go to the doctor and I will ask her what my options are.  I imagine she will be in agreement with my self-diagnosis of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder and I’m sure medication can easily be dished out but I need to try all these other things before I go swallowing any more pills.

I’m so hesitant to write this, lest it be dismissed under the old ‘oh, she’s got PMS’ banner but this is beyond PMS, it is beyond over-eating chocolate and having a cry.  This is a living fucking hell and I’ve had just about enough.  So today, today will be the day that I will do my best to get by in the hope that when this again passes, I can put one foot in front of the other and take some positive steps forward.

A Photograph

I was a selfish teenager.  Actually, most teenagers are pretty selfish, self absorbed.  Maybe I was no different to any other.  I was busy wallowing in deep, dark, gothic misery, contemplating the relevance of my existence and wishing away my teen years.  So when I was told that my birth mother, Gabrielle, was losing her sight due to Multiple Sclerosis and wanted to meet me, I said no.  Fuck that.  She gave ME away.  Why should I?  At 17 years of age, with an attitude as big as Ben-Hur, why would I give a shit?  She made her choice, it’s too late… The following year, she died.

Gabrielle, taken only a couple of weeks after my birth.  And an excerpt from the article.

Today I gratefully received some photos from my aunt, Gabrielle’s sister, as well as an old newspaper article about her from the Sunday Observer, dated October 20, 1985.  The article read ‘In her wallet, Gae has a poem written to her by actress Helen Morse and a note from singer Jon English, and a baby photograph of a daughter she had adopted out when she was 18 — all testimonies to a brave woman.’  She carried a photo of me, for all those years, and perhaps until the day she died, aged 36. I never knew.  How could I know?  I wish I had known.

I’m sitting here, with tears pouring down my cheeks.  I have often regretted my decision never to meet Gabrielle, but tried to move on with life with the attitude that I did what was best for me, at that time.  For me.  Not for her.  For me, a selfish fucking 17 year old. Despite Gabrielle’s family reassuring me that it was probably best I didn’t meet her when she was so very sick as it wouldn’t have been an accurate reflection on who she really was, I regret it.

It wasn’t until I gave birth to my son in 2008 that I really started to think about just how incredibly difficult, — actually, difficult doesn’t even come close — HORRENDOUS, it would have been to give away your baby, especially when you had wanted to keep it.  It wasn’t until I held my son in my arms that I could even remotely imagine the pain and anguish that she must have felt, having her baby taken from her, only hours after giving birth, never to be seen again.

In 2012 when I gave birth to my daughter, these emotions erupted.  My daughter was eerily like me as a baby and I couldn’t help but look at her and think of Gabrielle.  I know she got to hold me once, something that wasn’t the done thing back then, but one of my aunts worked at the hospital, so she did.  Looking into my daughter’s face, I was consumed with thoughts of Gabrielle, the pain and suffering she had gone through, the emotional torture she would have endured, walking out of that hospital, without me in her arms.  In retrospect, this played a big part in my post natal depression.

As I have written before and will reiterate now, my life was blessed.  I was adopted by the two most amazing humans in this Universe and have been gifted with every opportunity and drowned in love.  This, these feelings, they are separate.  These are feelings that are unique to me and not a reflection on the incredible life I have had.  These feelings of sadness, of regret, of loss — they are mine and will live within me until the day I die.

Today, I sit here ruminating on those words, ‘in her wallet… a baby photo of a daughter…’  That was me, a daughter.  She carried me with her, always.  A photo that my Mum and Dad would have sent to her, as they kept her updated on my life each year (as I said, amazing humans).  Every time she opened that wallet, she would have seen me, that baby that she carried for 9 months, that baby who she held only briefly and was then taken from her, forever.  I imagine that every time she opened her wallet and saw my photo, her heart hurt.  I can’t imagine how it couldn’t?  I can’t imagine having to give my child away, not now, not at birth, not ever.  No mother’s heart could EVER heal from that pain.  As I sit here and write, the lump in my throat grows bigger and the tears flow freely.  As I sit here today, aged 43, nearly 26 years since Gabrielle died, my heart hurts.  For her, for me, for us.

I try not to carry regrets in my life, and believe that the long and rocky journey I have travelled and the choices I have made, have shaped who I am today.  But this, this is different.  And this time, I sit here with a clear and sober mind, trying to allow these feelings to just be…

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Remember That Weekend When…

How my children will likely remember this weekend and it ain’t over yet… 

 

“Hey Charlie, remember that time we had to mind Dad’s bird?”

“Ugh, yeah, how could I forget?  Remember how it bit you when you put that harness thing on it, then it shit all over the bathroom?”

“Oh man, yeah I remember.  Then it ate the fish picture off the wall and cut my finger open”

“Ha ha… I forgot about your finger.  That would have really hurt”

“Yeah, it did.  That was the worst weekend.  I remember I was crying because I was meant to clean up after the bird — that’s what Mum and Dad had agreed to — but I wouldn’t do it.  Man, I carried on like a fucking two year old”

“You sure did Billy and Mum was soooooo pissed off”

“Oh Charlie, do you remember after Mum cleaned up the bird shit, she went into your room and the cat had pissed all over your bean bag and when she picked it up, all the piss ran off onto the carpet?”  

“Oh yes, I remember that, then she went into your room and found that the bird had shit on your clean bed and she totally lost her mind.  Do you remember how she picked up the doona and just shook it and screamed ‘F-U-U-U-U-U-U-C-K‘, like, at the top of her lungs?”

“Ha ha.. yeah and we asked her to stop swearing and she screamed ‘I WILL FUCKING NOT!’

“Oh yeah, then she went to hang the clean washing out and you’d dumped a towel with bird shit on it, right into the washing machine with the clean washing in it and when she picked it up, it went all over her hands.  The kids from next door were there and she dropped the ‘F bomb’ in front of them and had to apologise.”

“Fuck, I forgot about that, sis.  No wonder she lost her shit.  She was so stressed ’cause the dog wanted to eat the bird, too.

“Yeah, and she nearly cried when I tipped that entire bottle of bubble blowing shit all over the bed after that.  Oh and then the next day, the cat pissed in the kitchen sink!”

“No wonder she couldn’t even get out of her pyjamas to go and get a coffee, remember that?”

“Yeah, I do.  She made you go into Coles to do the shopping ’cause she wasn’t dressed.”

“I’m seriously fucking surprised she never went into the bottle shop that weekend.”

“Me too, Billy.  Me too.”

Emotional Exhaustion

I’m fucked.  Totally mentally and physically exhausted.  I feel like curling up into a ball, getting under my doona and crying my heart out.  I was wondering what the hell was wrong with me but I guess it’s been a pretty emotional couple of weeks.

Last week and beautiful young soul in our community took his own life and I can’t stop thinking about it.   Today I finished up my 8 week relapse and support program at St Vincent’s and I’m going to miss the incredible people there, not to mention having a purpose beyond my home and children for 2 days per week.  Tuesday the segment of Insight I was on was aired and the feedback I have had has been incredible but the whole thing has been pretty emotional — not something I really put much thought into before I did it.  Just like other people my age, I’m also watching my parents struggling with illness and general age-related shit.  Being an only child, I’m starting to feel quite alone in that aspect of my life.  I’m stressed about finances, my Exhole isn’t doing so well with his own mental health, which not only worries me with regards to his personal safety but also that if anything did happen to him and he wasn’t able to contribute financially to the kids, we’d be fucked and have to move out of this house.  I know that sounds callous but it’s the truth and I can’t help but think of what might happen if the shit hits the fan again.

So I guess that’s enough of a list of reasons to make me feel emotionally drained, exhausted and teary.  Despite the plethora of incredible feedback after Tuesday’s program, the old ‘Fat Girl Story’ is still playing in my mind.  If only I were beautiful, if only I were skinny, if only were good enough, if only you were worthy, if only… It’s so fucking exhausting when you spend hours each day telling yourself what a piece of shit you are.  Granted, not all days are like this and I am well aware that the old chestnut called ‘self-care’ has been lacking but that doesn’t make it any easier to sit with.  Ahhhh, ‘sit with’ — a beautiful term I have learned over the past 8 weeks.  Sitting with feelings that are shitty and allowing them space within my body.  Something I never used to do, something I used to drown with litres of wine, something that I now have to face, like a normal person.  Actually, I’m not sure how many people are actually comfortable sitting with discomfort, if our nation’s drinking habits are anything to go by but that’s another blog post entirely.

So, I’ve gone into mummy survival mode.  The kids had toasties for dinner, as did I and I cannot wait to crawl into bed.  I’m already planning going back to bed after school and kinder drop off tomorrow and I feel like I could sleep for a decade and still want more.  I can feel waterfalls of tears coming my way and as soon as the kids are in bed, I’m going to let them flow.  I’m sad.  I’m hurting.  I’m tired.  I’m stressed.  I’m glad I can identify how and why I’m feeling like this instead of running to the bottle shop and sending myself back into blurred tornado that was my life for so very long.

Hurry up kids, go to bed.  I need to check out.  x