Wednesday, 30 June 2010

On My Own


On My Own - Les Miserables

And now I'm all alone again,
nowhere to turn, no one to go to.
Without a home, without a friend...
without a face to say hello to,
but now the night is near and I can make believe
he's here.
Sometimes I walk alone at night.
when everybody else is sleeping..
I think of him and I'm happy with the company I'm keeping,
the city goes to bed and I can live inside my head.
On my own pretending he's beside me,
all alone I walk with him till morning,
without him I feel his arms around me
and when I lose my way I close my eyes and he has found me.
In the rain the pavement shines like silver,
all the lights are misty in the river,
in the darkness the trees are full of starlight...
and all I see is him and me forever and forever.
And I know it's only in my mind,
that I'm talking to myself and not to him.
And although I know that he is blind,
still I say, there's a way for us.

I love him!
But when the night is over,
he's is gone, the river's just a river.
Without him the world around me changes,
the trees are bare and everywhere the streets are full of strangers.

I love him!
But every day I'm learning,
all my life I've only been pretending.
Without me his world would go on turning,
a world that's full of happiness that I have never known.

I love him...I love him...I love him,
but only on my own!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Magician Kitty


No matter how dark the day, kitties make me smile :)

Monday, 28 June 2010

Bling - The Shop

We have set up shop at the Fantasia Indoor Markets in Yarrawonga. The weekend was insane, in a good way. Customers loved the unique fashion jewelry and adored the hand crafted Papua New Guinean gold and silver pieces. We made a LOT of sales and had repeat customers over just the two days we were open.

Here are some photos from the opening day, taken while setting up...


The shop standing completely empty. We have an ottoman now


Katrina setting up the PNG jewelry in a secure cabinet

A shot of the open shelves with the less expensive fashion jewelry

A glass cabinet holding the more high end pieces. We were opening and closing this all day

The solid pieces and pearls are locked away in here. It was nearly empty by the end of the weekend

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Bling - The Website


My sister now has a website for her jewelry business Bling. Check out the fashion jewelry and the beautiful hand-crafted gold and silver imported from Papua New Guinea. In a couple of weeks, she'll have Paypal on there and will start selling online as well as in Darwin.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Selling My Sole

Here is a guest blog post I wrote for a good friend's shoe blog.

Best Intro Yet

Your Royal Highness, Your Grace, My Lord Bishop, Your Excellencies, Honoured President, Academicians, Lords, Ladies, Gentlemen, artists, art lovers, friends, trustees, donors, distinguished guests and assorted media scum.


-- Stephen Fry when recently giving this speech

Monday, 21 June 2010

Suicide is Painless


On this blog, I have explained a lot of the thinking involved in what has been the hellish and amazing journey through and hopefully out of my clinical depression. You will always hear me refer to it as "my depression" because it is completely intrinsic and can be lived through and overcome by just one person, and that is me. Aid is available and mostly welcomed but the final say in all of this is mine. This is a tug-of-war between My Depression and I.

Most battles are won by me, these days. However, the war wages on.

In this life, I am gifted with eternal optimism and unwavering confidence except when the chemicals in my brain decide they will make me feel something else and be someone else. There are people on this planet who may never see all the light and beauty in the world, for even one moment in their life. There are those who constantly doubt their worth, meaning and purpose. Some believe they have none of those things. That saddens me because from as far back as I can recall, I have always felt my life has meaning and that my existence is to add to the collective well-being of those around me. I am NOT only here to add to entropy.

This is a level of confidence that is not based in arrogance. In fact, arrogance is a lack of confidence that manifests as insecurity negated by outward superiority. True confidence is not pushing others down or even seeing people as being in a different sphere to you, but instead it is the ability to know who you are and be ok with whatever that is. That does not mean never growing and thinking you know all there is to know. Those who are "too cool for school" often aren't. Their facade of strength betrays their obvious weakness and self-awareness of their own flaws. Fractures in your character either define you or give you something to work towards fixing. If we were born perfect and all knowing, what fun would that be?

Be careful not to believe everything that those around you portray. In the end, life is a play as ol' Will proclaimed.

Now, on to that self-inflicted certainty.

When the path you walk is straight and narrow, there is no reason to doubt that it will always be so. The yellow bricks will endlessly shine, glisten and call to you to follow. Life is sunshine and frangipanis until the horizon and surely passed it. The best thing about happiness is that you forget that it ever wasn't there. Happiness is heroine for the soul. We seek it. We yearn for it. We will go out in to the world and do anything within our power to obtain it. I, like you, am a happiness junky.

Depressed people on bad days are junkies without a fix but they are so strung out that they can't even go out and mug someone to make the cost of recovery. It's a terrible analogy that I have used before. Depressed people often bitch slap me at the mention of this comparison but if you have truly felt that loss of control that comes with a down day then you will understand how it feels for your brain to control you and tell you what you will be doing. This exhibits as a 100% feeling of whatever your individually selected depressed emotion of choice is to be.

Imagine feeling sad. Of course, you can do that. Sad happens to everyone. Now turn up the sad ten fold and then another ten fold. Your sadness would be 3 on the Richter scale, while a seriously depressed person would be shaking Chile to rubble. This doesn't underestimate the severity of your feelings. Instead, I mean that if a normal people feels a tremor in their life then the magnitude of that in a depressed person's life will roll the Earth and move continents. Having felt both, I can vouch for the irrational and terrifying relativity of the latter.

The feelings may vary from time to time between sadness, loss, loneliness, emptiness, worthlessness and anything else a person can feel. The positive feelings can also be felt in the same way for people who are bi-polar but that is a post for another Sunday.

Whatever I feel when I am down, it is all I feel. Nothing else exists. There is no room for it. When you suffer extreme emotional trauma you can have a very similar reaction to severe physical trauma (a car crash for instance). The pain is enormous and overpowering. Your brain does the only thing it can to help you cope and to give it time to fix you. That often involves shutting down what isn't vital. Like a physical coma, you can experience what I can only describe as an emotional coma. You feel nothing. You are conscious though. You can interact, have all senses and move but your ability to feel emotions is dissociated. You are disconnected from who you are because you are so overwhelmed that you must be shut down to stop the awareness of suffering.

I have experienced this only a few times during my depression and those moments followed huge life stressors - like my ex-husband walking out on me, calling me to him and then telling me the world was a better place without me. This was at a time in my life when I was isolated and alone, without anyone to ground me. Alcohol never helped the situation either.

My blessing in this case is that my depression is referred to as behavioural and not chemical. This disorder was caused by a combination of abuse from my husband, environmental poisons like alcohol and social isolation (an effect of the abuse). These factors compounded to produce my slow degradation in to a severe depressive state. Unlike people who have chemical imbalances that cause their illness, mine is much easier to overcome. I am lucky... relatively.

The point of this whole post is to make people aware that the effect you have directly on the life of a depressed person is much more exaggerated than the same event enacted upon a healthy you. Empathy will never give you an inkling of what the explosive exaggeration of depression on what would be a normal reaction, may actually be.

The consequences are often drastic but not always visible until something awful like an attempt or successful suicide occurs.

Think twice before you ignore, attack, react negatively to or even bump in to a depressed soul. Tread carefully. They are more fragile than you may ever truly know, until it is too late.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Intervention


I need a favour from you. Yes, You.

Having spent many years as a giver in a relationship and not learning how to prioritise myself and my well-being when making decisions has left me in a disadvantaged position. When I enter a relationship with a guy, I end up giving so much that I forget to think of getting anything for myself in return.

That is what I need help with. I need to look at a situation and realise that I shouldn't be wasting time on someone who won't waste time on me. I can not be the only one who gives and changes and adjusts to how the other person runs things.

You, my friends, must remind me that it is far better to be alone and be myself than to live a life pleasing someone else and never being valued in return.

It's nothing wrong with the guys. It's me. I just have to pick different kind of men. A nice guy who likes me and treats me well. Surely, he exists. Now is the time to do other things and if he turns up then good. If not, I still have you all.

Don't let me fall in to another HE-IS-EVERYTHING-I-AM-NOTHING trap, please.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Why I stayed


Now that I am hitting my stride or at least not falling over my own feet, people are feeling more comfortable asking me questions about the mental breakdown that resulted from my depression and separation from my husband.

The thing people should know firstly is that it is ok to ask. There are few things that have happened in the last year that I am ashamed of. In fact, I'm proud of the way I have handled what has so far in my life, been the worst part of it. I did not just learn from the experience but I blossomed and came out of the muck a better person than she who entered.

Would I wish the last few years of my life on anyone if even just for the learning? Gawd no! No one deserves to suffer the abuse of a narcissistic spouse and the ensuing pain when you are left high and dry to pick up what is left when someone throws an hand grenade in to your life and leaves.

But shit happens and if you don't learn techniques to cope then life is going to eat you up and puke you out. One of the best tools I possess now is the ability to clearly articulate my thoughts and communicate the issues I face with people around me.

Often, a person believes that to be strong you must solve your own problems and by that they mean keep it to yourself... suck it up... deal with pain on your own.

Yes, happiness is intrinsic. You make it and you make it go away.

Yes, mental illness is in your head. No matter how many people try to help you and tell you what you need to do to fix it, the will to do the fixing lays in your hands.

No single other person but you is going to turn the tide. The gun is being held to your head but the trigger is yours to pull. The weapon can be moved away from your temple and the safety flicked on. The thing is that it is you shooting yourself otherwise. It sure as hell feels like it is happening to you but it is you happening to you. Medication - Therapy - Lifestyle Changes will all go towards improving your situation and each one of those alterations are up to you.

You can not wait for someone else to save you. I had to be a self-rescuing princess!

So, the question I have been asked the most lately is one that I expected much earlier on. I guess people didn't push it because they thought I would take it as criticism or judgement... and to be honest... yeah, I probably would have. Now, I feel removed from that pain as if it happened to someone else. I can listen to the question without bursting in to tears. I can try to form the answer. In responding to their queries, it resolves in my head. This could be because I'm the kind of person who talks my way through the problem space and sorts it in to some semblance of sense along the way. Not all of us work that way so I do not write this to give advice but to talk it through with you... with me... with my brain.

The question is "if your ex-husband treated you so badly then why did you continue to stay with him?

It is a damn good question and one I had to ask myself once I realised that I was better off without that destructive influence in my life. It is hard to remove that uncomfortable feeling of looking at the skeletons in a friend's closet but come for the ride.

There are many reasons not to list all the things that were done to me over the final two years of my marriage. One of the last things he asked me was "Do you think I liked doing those things to you?" and to this day, I don't know the answer. Knowing what he was thinking then or now is not something I shall waste my time and thought power on. If you are not that kind of person then you will never be able to truly understand the monsters who are.

What I can explain to you is why women stay with men who destroy them. It may sound like cliches but let me work my way through them for both our sakes.

He wasn't always like that Of course he was. It just worsened slowly over time and I didn't see it because at first I was blinded by puppy love and then I was blinded by loyalty. An abusive person is just that. They start with minor verbal abuse then mental abuse and it escalates to breaking things and people. You convince yourself that he was once loving and the kind of person who would never hurt you but if you really think back, you remember how controlling he was and the consequences worsening over time when you pushed back against his will. It takes time, distance and exposure to other people who are not cruel to see the difference. To see how you should allow yourself to be treated and how you definitely should not.

I loved him and knew he loved me Someone once said that love is pain. Do not listen to that idiot. Love is joy for everyone involved in it. There are tough parts but it should not be painful. Love stories with suffering and sacrifice are all noble but don't think that it should be like that. I thought putting up with the misery of his moods and tourment was part of what I needed to do to prove I loved him. The lows were so low but they made the highs feel so high. In reality, I had to realise that true love is a calm ocean that has stormy days once a while and not the other way around. If he loved me like I loved him, he would not have treated me the way he did. If I had realised that then I would never have allowed it.

For better or worse Marriage is an important institution and so is the Supreme Court. At least the latter does not allow cruelty to persist. Marriage for the wrong reasons, like me thinking I might as well or he'd move out, is really not right. It is about love and forever and babies and forever. It is a decision to be taken seriously. Especially the part about "for better or worse". Unlike me, be sure that there is far more better than worse before you even enter in to the contract. I thought marriage meant enduring through the hard times and it does but you better make sure you are agreeing to hard times with the right person because if they aren't going to stick around for your bad bits then they aren't worth it.

So, I stayed because I thought that was what love was. What life was. I was wrong. If you are being abused or hurt a lot by your partner then you must walk away or at least get help for both of you. Don't stay and be a cliche like me. Be stronger. You can survive on your own. I didn't think I could because that is what he taught me. Now I know that I can and I'm a much better and happier person because of it.

Old Endings


All my possessions that have been in storage for six months since I moved up to Darwin, are coming out today. It feels a bit like the beginning of the Blue Brothers movie.

"We're getting the band back together."

For the next month, I have to sift through everything that was once mine and my ex-husbands and sell or donate it all. Amazingly, I have not missed a single thing except the juicer that Rob gave me for my last birthday. It is a revelation to see how little things mean to you when they are missing. They are just inanimate objects that are replaceable or easily forgotten.

It is a freeing feeling.

I bought two heavy duty insanely secure padlocks for the self-storage lockup and am awaiting the delivery guys as I type this blog post. There are butterflies in my stomach at the thought of facing it all again. Facing it alone.

It will all be fine. It will be a busy month of reacquaintence and disposal. Expect many oohs and ahhs as I go through the lucky dip of stuff that I already own but totally forgot about.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

People


I don't understand people.

I have spent my whole life trying to work out what they are doing and why they are doing it. Over time, I have learned that the majority of things that I witness and that may affect me are not actually aimed at me. Most people don't mean things personally. It is the rare moment when you meet a truly vindictive person and they deliberately hurt you. That has not happened to me many times and I hope to continue the trend.

With me only working for myself at the moment and not doing the usual 9 to 5 gig at a work place with a manager and people I am forced to call peers, time is a surplus in my life. This is not a complaint in any way. My declarations of semi-retirement are basically true. I may never work a full 12 months in a row ever again in my life if I have a choice. Not because I'm not well enough or don't want to but more because I don't have to. Life is not about money and stuff and working yourself to death for something you do not care so much about. Life is about passion and contentment. Find that inner peace and meaning in the work that you do end up doing and you will find happiness. That is my plan.

Recently, I realised that I no longer yearn for Giles anymore. My heart does not trip and fall when I hear his name or think a thought of him living his life without me. Driving around Darwin triggers wonderful memories of my past with him and I often catch myself smiling and then smile some more. For all the pain he caused me in our last two years together, there were nine plus years where it was wonderful. That is what I choose to remember now.

For all the bad bits that happened to over the past years, I can no longer complain. My life as a whole has been filled with so much love, happiness and success that I guess the Universe had to take a little back. I have given enough now. Time for good things. Time to forget the bad bumps.

I have a best friend. I love him as dearly as I could any person on this planet. He is a very different person to me. We often don't understand what the other is thinking, at all. Not on just a few things but on pretty much everything. We frustrate each other sometimes but always try to understand so it doesn't cause tension. In getting to a point where I see some sense in the way he thinks and am able to articulate my thoughts and reasoning to him, I have discovered many things about the human condition.

He recently made the decision that "it's more important spending time with people that understand you than getting upset with those that don't." And there goes another friend of mine off in to a world without me.

Each day, I try to understand more and more about what makes me the kind of person who people finally walk away from. What makes me not worth the effort? I'm obviously the common denominator but I am unaware of what I am doing.

My current theory is that I think about it all too much. That too much introspection is never a good thing. With this thinking, I have decided to leave my deeply dug hole of analysis and embrace superficiality and spontaneity. At first I thought of sitting down and planning how to do this. Instead, I'm going to live like I blog. I am just going to put it out there and not read it again. Do what is to be done in life and not over think it.

You will see much more writing from me now. More outside and less inside.

Keep up. OK?

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Happily ever after

Disney's Desperate Housewives...

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Sail Away Sail Away Sail Away


Life moves upwards and onwards as my friend Cathie always suggests it should. Alice tells me not to underestimate the difference I've made in the past year. Candace reminds me often that I am a good person and should stick around. Kellie says that I should be somewhere that I belong. Allison makes it clear that I am never alone as long as she is around.

My mother has always promised to be my tether to this world, no matter how lost I become. My sister's strength means I am safe from the horrors of my past. My father is always there, always.

I spent ten-ish days in Sydney, Melbourne and in-between the two on a road trip to visit a friend's future university campus. Seeing a campus with all the brilliant young minds and their hopeful eyes made me remember how much I knew the world was mine when I was their age. That hasn't been lost. There is still so much to do. Many things to try at and succeed or fail. It's all part of this journey. Turning 34 this year means I'm part way along that path but that comes with benefits of experience, knowledge and strengthening war wounds.

The recent holiday and time spent with friends in two cities that I love gave me a certainty. A knowledge that I will have to leave this safe sanctuary of Darwin and head back sooner or later.

So the plans have begun. I will be in this city for the rest of the dry season and then head off back to a semi-charmed kinda life. Until then, I'm unpacking and selling the stuff that once belonged to Giles and I. I don't need those possessions to own me anymore. He is gone. They will never be "ours" again. Holding on to them means nothing but holding on to the past.

It is time to move on. To sail away in to the sunset and await whatever life brings. Let it be love, work, friends, family and fun. I shall accept no less.