I’m Still Here

CW: Suicide.

I called the CAT team tonight. There are a couple of reasons why I did that. Firstly, because I really, really wanted to die. Secondly, because I wanted to die but I didn’t want to disrespect the people whose house I’m staying in by ending my life in their home. Thirdly, because I made a promise to my friends that I would reach out if things got bad. Fourthly, because I didn’t want to burden my friends with another night of me sobbing on the couch.

I’m on a ridiculous amount of anti-depressants, and they’re probably going to go up in dose this week. I see my therapist regularly. I have wonderful, supportive, amazing friends who love me and tell me so all the time. I have a talent – many talents, actually – that I’m proud of and work on constantly. I have moments of awesomeness. I have moments of being babin’. I’m fairly intelligent, I’m quite funny, I’m fun to be around. But I consistently seem to fall in love with people who don’t believe I’m worth fighting for. And right now, I’m very, very alone.

I’ve never really had a problem with being alone. But now, it looms. It’s crushing. My family, whom I adore, are away from me in other countries and on other plains. There is nothing more lonely than being surrounded by incredible people, but only wanting the company of one. And when that one proclaims that they no longer have love for you, that in essence, you’re not worth the fight, suddenly the world seems very large and expansive and empty.

It’s an odd feeling to know that I’m worthy and deserving of love and happiness and all that entails, but feeling so lost and hollow that that knowledge seems meaningless. I, once so independent and fearsome in my knowledge of my place in the world, am now directionless. Without a home, without my beloved cats who are not doing well without me, without my family, I’ve been very, veeeery slowly hauling myself up a very steep hill, all the while impatient to be settled again, to be over and done with her, to be happily single, living the life of my dreams. Unfortunately, the realisation of that dream seems to be moving further and further away, like when you try to run down a hallway in a nightmare but it keeps stretching on away from you.

I don’t feel like this because my marriage ended. That hurts, yes, but it’s not the reason I am teetering at the edge of the pit. I feel like this because I never saw it coming. I trust my intuition keenly, it’s never steered me wrong. But this time it gave me no warning. I had relaxed – maybe a little too much, but I finally felt safe.

And then I wasn’t.

I feel like this because it all seems so cruel. I didn’t deserve any of what has happened to me. I’m not blaming anyone, because I’m tired of that pointless circular game. I’m usually the type of person who will cry and wail when I’m hurt, but then I’ll pick myself up, dust myself off, acknowledge the part I had to play in why things fucked up, and with that acknowledgement, things seem to move on naturally. Awesome things happen, and suddenly I find myself not grieving anymore. This time, though, it’s different, and I’m struggling. I’ve acknowledged and acknowledged and acknowledged, but I still feel so very lost.

I was doing fine. I actually was doing really fine, and then something happened and I rolled back down the steep hill, bumping and grazing myself along the way. I didn’t fall down as far as I was when I started, but it’s a significant drop. I don’t have the energy to start heaving my way back up that bloody stupid hill, but I can’t stay here. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know where I’m going. I’m relying on other people so much that I feel like I might forget my own autonomy. I don’t trust anyone. I still have a lot of love, but my wall is getting higher and thicker and I feel myself hardening and cracking like cheap paint in the sun. This feels bad. It feels so bad, and nothing I’m doing seems to be helping, and I’m really, really scared.

I had made peace with suicidal ideation just before everything fell apart, and then it’s like the Universe went “okay then, let’s test that theory.” Fucking Universe and its experiencing itself through me in a way that’s not starry and delightfully magickal. Fuck it.

Do I really want to die? Obviously not completely, otherwise I wouldn’t be here to write this. But the desire to be with my mum, to be away from this endless darkness, to be free from this sticky, sickening pain is so great that sometimes I have to call the CAT team. And that sucks.

I’m sharing this because writing about it whilst in the thick of it helps, and also because a friend of mine once told me that she had spent an afternoon reading every single post on my blog and it helped her to feel less alone. I know I’m not the only one out there in the pit.

We’re okay. We’re still here.

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A Letter To My Mother

Dear Mum

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to fall from a great height and survive; what the impact of my body hitting the ground would feel like. Would I pass out? Or would I lie there, all the breath knocked out of me, at one with the moment?

Since you’ve been gone, I feel like I’ve jumped off a cliff and tried to fly. My back is fucked, I have a constant cough (probably more due to the amount of cigarettes I’m sucking down than anything else), my knee is giving out and I’m tired all the time. All the fucking time. My wife gave me a massage last night that left me in tears. In trying to fix my back, she released all this emotional garbage that was caught up in the muscles, sinews and tendons supporting my spine. I sobbed like a child, keening and hiccuping, like the world was ending. Something has to change.

Something has changed. The world has hit breaking point and I feel we are on the brink of a world war. This is what history has dictated since we have failed to learn from it. It may seem that all the conflict is oceans away from those of us here at the bottom of the world. Distance – usually a tyrant – is saving us from the immediacy of suicide bombs and guns and planes being shot from the sky. We weigh in our opinions on issues we know little about – not for lack of trying, but simply because what we are fed through mainstream media is homogenised, censored and spun into webs of carefully worded (dis)information. Those seeking transparency are labelled as kooks, naysayers and agitators. We as a people are being gently patted on the head and told not to worry, it’s too far away from us, here, have a free iPad!

A lot has happened in the world in the past two months since you passed. A man held up a chocolate store in Sydney. The country thought it was terrorism, when in reality it was one unhinged man on a rampage. Staff of a racist, xenophobic magazine were gunned down by religious extremists in France. Neither party was in the right as neither freedom of religion nor freedom of speech justifies such violence. Thousands of people were massacred in Nigeria. Nobody knew about it here because the victims weren’t white or Christian or American or important.

Evil isn’t so easily defined anymore. I’m afraid of what the world is becoming. I’m afraid of what I’m becoming. I’m so angry, quick to snap at anyone for anything, allowing myself to get dragged down by other people’s shit, hating on myself for getting a little bit fat, I’m publicly reacting to things I have no business reacting to, letting the little things become big deals. My wife is suffering; it’s been such a difficult year for her. She’s not been doing well; the pressure of the past year has finally gotten to her and the shit has hit the fan. She’s struggling with newly diagnosed depression, and I’m struggling to support her. She met you and you were a support for her and she needs you so much and now you’re gone.

Why aren’t you here? Why did you have to go? I am a child, because all I’m thinking about is my grief and what’s happening to me when all this stuff is going on in the world. The times I have thought how much I’ve needed you is triple the amount before you went. That’s funny, isn’t it? You were always there, always sending me cute emails, always ready to give help when I needed it, which in reality wasn’t often. Now that you’re not here, every time something goes wrong or a celebration is due, I feel your absence keenly. I’ve seen you no more than eight times in the last 19 years, but your energy was always with me. My brother assures me you’re now looking over me. I can’t feel it yet.

All I can feel is this emptiness. I’m lost. So very lost. Theatre, usually the saviour of my soul, holds no joy for me anymore. My home, usually my sanctuary, is threatened by malicious outside forces. My love for K, the thing I’ve fought for at the expense of friendship and my reputation, is buckling under the weight of somebody else’s hate. I want to run. We both want to run back home to the safety of you, but you’re not here anymore, and I’m so angry and sad and grief-stricken.

I needed to talk to you the other day. Not about anything in particular. Just to talk to you and hear one of your stories about Daisy the cow, or the crazy things you and your kin would get up to on the property, or the songs you would sing for Granddad. I wanted to hear more about your nursing days, about you parachuting out of planes and landing in the ocean, about the judo you learned so you could be safe and independent. I even wanted to hear the sorry story of you and my father, how you loved him, how you failed each other. I wanted to tell you that I’ve forgiven you for your violence towards me when I was a child, that I forgave you long ago, and that your death brought all of that shit back up again, and I had to reconcile who you were then with how you were before you died. Two different women. One I feared, the other I admired. One I grieved for, the other I celebrated. I wanted to tell you that I understood. I wanted to tell you how grateful I am that you saw and heard all the terrible things I did to myself and other people during those awful years of my twenties and that you loved me anyway. You never threw it in my face. You never told me you were disappointed. You just told me that you loved me, that I was your precious girl, and that you were so proud of me.

I had so little patience with you the last few years. You seemed so caught up in your pain and in your past. You would linger there, dwelling in all the things that hurt you, refusing to let go of that and see the present for what it was. I didn’t know, until you died and I was sitting on your bed in your bedroom, how hard you tried. I saw the symbols of your faith throughout your house: crosses, pictures of Buddha, your precious angels, notes to yourself reminding you to let go and be thankful. I saw those things and I felt so ashamed that I didn’t have more faith in you. My gods, you tried. You tried so hard. I’m so sorry.

I miss you. I miss you like nothing I’ve ever felt before.

I wish you were here.

My eternal love,

Missey

The Child Who Knew Too Much

So, another Catholic priest has been arrested after police investigated an online child pornography ring in Sydney. The FBI has just freed 105 children from a child prostitution ring in the US. There is an increase in sexual abuse of indigenous kids in rural and outback Australia. Every day there seems to be more and more reports of children being sexually molested by people in positions of power, by priests, by neighbours, teachers, uncles, fathers – you name it.

Studies say children who have been sexually abused can experience depression, anxiety, guilt, fear, sexual dysfunction, withdrawal, and acting out. They can suffer from sleep disturbances, eating problems, and non-participation in school and social activities. Some kids stop trying at life. Other kids try too hard.

Adult victims of child abuse can suffer from high levels of anxiety which can result in alcoholism, drug abuse, anxiety attacks, borderline personality disorders, insomnia and depression. Victims can go on to engage in high risk sexual behaviour, including prostitution.

Let me tell you what happened to me. I became extremely depressed as a child, but was unable to articulate what had happened until I was 12. The disclosure was not met with a great deal of acceptance by my family. As a teenager, I began to display borderline tendencies and started to cut myself. I developed bulimia. Simultaneously, I became an over-achiever at school, committing myself to several extra-curricular activities at once in an effort to occupy my mind until I burned out at 17 and almost failed Seventh Form.

Outside of working in the sex industry, which you all know about, I would occasionally have indiscriminate and sometimes unsafe sex with random men and women. It’s actually quite amazing that I didn’t catch a sexually transmitted infection. That behaviour, together with the borderline traits and obsessive compulsive tendencies continued well into my adulthood, and still exist in much less severity to this day.

My parents live with an undisclosed sense of guilt that they couldn’t prevent the abuse from happening to me. We can’t really talk about it, simply because I don’t want them to feel that I’m making them responsible, and they don’t really know what to say. My brothers are the same.

My self worth and value is rooted firmly in my sexual attractiveness. I tend to use sex as a bargaining tool; as a weapon; as my armour. I have been working to offset this for a number of years. It’s hard, but I’m much, much better than I was.

Today at rehearsal, there were some child rape jokes thrown around. I am not angry at those who perpetrated these jokes because it occurred in a context that is difficult to explain. Needless to say, I had to walk out of rehearsal because it broke my head. And finally cemented home a realisation:

I will never get over being sexually molested as a child.

I have healed immensely and have worked very, very hard to not let that trauma impede on my everyday life. I am a very functional member of society, and my experiences have provided me with a very thick skin most of the time. I do not dwell on it, or cast myself as a victim in life’s drama. But it’s there. All the time, whether I acknowledge it or not. Today it’s very much at the forefront of my mind. And it hurts.

Child abuse destroys lives. It’s a topic that is drowning in shame and outrage and guilt and pain and it has to stop. Of course, it never will, because humans can be cruel and sadistic and nasty and apathetic of what impact their actions can have on others, so we have to be prepared to nurture and comfort and support and help heal those who have suffered this horrible, horrible experience.

My love and my heart goes out to all survivors of child sexual abuse. I’m feeling your pain right now because it is also my own.