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.


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…


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

Excerpts #2

‘”Why do you seem to hate yourself so much?” he asked, seemingly annoyed at her constant misery and self loathing.  “You’re sexy, you know” he insisted as he unzipped his pants and declined a phone call from his wife.  She lay next to him, naked, staring at the candle flickering beside the bed, lit for his visit.  ‘The only difference between me and a fucking hooker is that I don’t get paid’, she observed.  He leaned over and stroked her body and for a moment, she was worth something…’


I’m feeling fucking sad today.  I suppose there’s a few things going on in my life right now but the jolt back into reality this morning as we ‘checked in’ at group, really rocked my world.

I started a ‘relapse support program’ 3 weeks ago — both as a client and also as a student with a view to become a peer facilitator of the program.  I thought I’d cruise through it but I must admit, I’m finding it somewhat confronting — each day being a gentle reminder of where I’ve come from and how easily I could go right back there.  But today was far from gentle.  Today, two members of our group admitted to busting over the weekend, or lapsing as they call it.  One of them didn’t shock me as he’d busted before but the other one, well, it blew my mind.  This guy had it all going on, had his shit together, his mojo working, his map to recovery was planned out, organised, passionate.  He was smashing all the goals he’d been asked to set at the start of the 8 week program — nothing was going to stop him.  Until it did.

He said he’d already decided his fate in the days leading up to the bust.  Drug and drink dreams and fantasies, that fucked up little voice that sits on the shoulder of an addict and tells that how wonderful ‘just one’ would be.  The ‘stinking thinking’ as they call it in the rooms, the influx of insanity

that tells you ‘it will be different this time — despite decades of evidence that shows you that it won’t.  He was at the supermarket, doing some grocery shopping, with that demon on his shoulder, jabbering on, up and down the aisles.  The mental wrestling match getting more and more vicious as he collected groceries.  The bright lights of the bottle shop seeming ever so appealing as the bottles twinkled like stars, only metres from the toilet paper aisle.  Before he knew it, he’d gone through the checkout, two bottles of Coke amongst the groceries.  ‘There was only one reason I was buying that Coke’, he recalled.  A quick swing to the right of the checkout and there he was, surrounded by the twinkling bottles of seduction.  The bottles that will carry the world away, if only for a handful of hours, and will land you back in the middle of a hellish combination of regret, shame and despair.  Why would you go there, I hear you (the non-addict) ask?  Because for us, the feeling of crawling skin, aching teeth and bones and a desire that, at times, feels more powerful than the universe itself, is just too great to conquer.

So what was the big deal with this member’s bust?  Why did I drive home with tears pouring down my face?  Why do I care?  I barely know this person really but deep, deep down, we are one and the same.  He is no different to me.  Although he came from a vastly different background to me, had seemingly more struggles than me, has moved dozens of times more than me and is 10 years older than me, we are the same.  We are addicts, we are alcoholics and no matter how much sober or clean time we have under our belts, we can never, EVER, let our guard down.  So what made me so sad?  The reality that no matter how well I may be doing, how organised my life may be, how many goals I appear to be smashing or how many fucking super powers I think I have on board, it’s only a short walk from the checkout to the bright lights of the liquor department.

After the initial discussion about this bust, our facilitator asked ‘is there somewhere else you can do your shopping?’.  The answer is no.  And what the fuck is the story with that?Last week I went to the pub for dinner with the kids and my Exhole.  As we walked in, we were confronted by a darkened room, hidden by frosted glass and big warning signs plastered all over the doors.  ‘No children allowed’ and ‘gamble responsibly‘ were two of them.  I could see the twinkling lights of the poker machines behind the glass doors but only when someone walked in or out.  It certainly wasn’t inviting, it wasn’t easily accessible and if I’d wanted to go in there, I would have had to leave the kids with their dad, or if it had just been me, they wouldn’t have been able to be with me at all.  As we waited to be seated at our table, I looked across the multiple bars at all the alcohol.  Alcohol on tap, alcohol on shelves, alcohol signage and advertising, special prices on alcohol, free alcohol with certain meals purchased and extra large glasses to hold far more than your standard drink.  My children were by my side, also waiting to be seated at our table, experiencing the exact same thing I was.  Alcohol, alcohol, alcohol.  So now I ponder the question, why is the gambling section so off limits or taboo yet alcohol, which kills over 155 THOUSAND PEOPLE each year in this country, so openly available, if not glorified?  Why is it okay for my kids and I to be confronted by this drug, en masse, yet the poker machines are hidden away as if they were toxic waste?

So, back to the facilitator’s question, no, there is nowhere he could shop so as to avoid the temptation of this insidious drug.  He, nor I, can’t even walk into some supermarkets without having to walk by walls of wine bottles, used as the store’s ‘eye catching’ entrance feature.  We can’t go to a cafe for a coffee without the option of buying alcohol and even hairdressing salons now hold liquor licences!  Only last week I tried out a new cafe in town and noticed they had a huge notice of ‘apology’ on their window because their liquor license was yet to be approved.  And the sad part is, people are generally pissed off if alcohol isn’t available to them at restaurants, cafes, sporting events, weddings, parties, funerals, kindergarten picnics, Cub camps and I’m sure the list goes on.  I understand that for MOST people, drinking isn’t a problem, and that’s fantastic.  But for some, it can destroy everything they hold close and leave them with the following options:


And no, I’m not exaggerating.  These three places are where most alcoholics and addicts will eventually end up, if they can’t get clean.  These three places are why today’s story of a weekend bust by a fellow addict, cut me to my core.  These three places are not so far away, should I happen to walk into that bright and inviting bottle shop one day after doing my grocery shopping.  Frightening?  You bet it is.  Possible?  Incredibly.  Cured?  No, we are never cured.  This battle is forever, one day at a time and our society’s unwillingness to recognise the seriousness of this indiscriminate drug, only makes it that much harder for us to fight.

A moment’s silence for all those addicts who are suffering as I write this.  May your tomorrow come and bring with it renewed hope for recovery.  

Serenity.  Courage.  Wisdom.   

The Tornado

Here I am.  A total fucking mess.  It’s 6.52pm, Billy has been home for just over an hour, Charlie since lunchtime.  After spending the weekend with their father — my Exhole — they have come back exhausted and emotional.  Charlie became hysterical over where she was sitting to have dinner and Billy followed shortly after because he could see me not coping and quite frankly, her screaming was doing our fucking heads in.  Both have refused to eat dinner, Billy has told me his father is better than me and has screamed for half an hour demanding I call my Exhole to come and collect him.  He called his father, who, as predicted, refused to come and get him and couldn’t for the life of him work out why both children were hysterical.  The dog got their meals and I have called upon the expert opinion of a dear friend to see just how many pills I can pop so that I don’t pick up a drink but also don’t die.


So, here I am.  Tears pouring down my cheeks, starting to feel the wave of chemical relief, roaring quickly to the rescue.  Tex Perkins is filling my soul.  One pill couldn’t work quickly enough and the next one will definitely knock me about.  In fact, I usually only take a quarter.  I know my time is limited to type.  I can feel the heaviness in my fingers as my hero pulses through my body.  I feel defeated and ashamed but I am still sober.  Alerts are popping up on Facebook and private messages are coming through.  I know people care.  I am surrounded by amazing humans.  I hesitated in posting how I was feeling but I want people to know that some days, this is absolutely fucking shit.  Some days, my teeth start to ‘itch’ or ache and my skin crawls.  I want to rip my own fucking face off, just to stop the hideous desire to drown myself in hell again.  People need to know that they’re not alone in these feelings and just because I’m here with 2.5 years clean time, life ain’t no picnic.

What sets me off?  It depends on the day.  Sometimes it’s the sunshine, sometimes it’s the rain.  Sometimes it’s the stale smell of alcohol on someone as I pass them in the supermarket.  The other day, it was seeing the local motel and remembering all the times I’d book a room at dives like that, just to get fucked up in peace.  Some days, it’s my kid telling me their dad is better than me and they’d rather live with him.  Some days it’s because I’m broke.  Other days, it’s nothing.  It just is.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  You can’t avoid life and life will happen.  It’s learning to live life on life’s terms and that can suck ass sometimes.  All these things are going to happen, whether I’m present or not and I need to learn to deal with them with a clear mind, instead of inside that swirling world of liquid numbness — which never makes anything better.  Ever.

Oh how I wish, at times like this, I could fall into someone.  Just to hold me and tell me everything was going to be alright.

Fuck you today.  You caught my by surprise.  7.05pm — writing game over.