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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Just Say Yes

 


Yes folks, it’s that time again! It’s that time to pull out my dusty old copy of the Gay Agenda, turn to page 246 of sub-section 39b (the Bi Agenda) and wax rhetoric about marriage equality! Yay, that old chestnut.

Australia, while a wonderful country in many ways, is a little bit backward. Besides the rampant racism and xenophobia, the alarming domestic violence rate, and the existence of XXXX beer, Australia is the land of the seemingly homophobic government. Tim Minchin puts it best in his latest online offering, so I won’t go into why it’s ridiculous that marriage equality isn’t legal. But let me just explore our options here.

In 2004 John Howard’s Liberal government introduced the Marriage Amendment Bill, changing the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act 1961 to state, “Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. Certain unions are not marriages. A union solemnised in a foreign country between: (a) a man and another man; or (b) a woman and another woman; must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia” (source). What that means is that the government pretty much sanctioned discrimination based on sexual preference and it was done without consulting the Australian people.

In 2013, however, the High Court found that the Constitutional standpoint of marriage included same sex couples and that basically the federal Parliament has the power to decide to whether same sex couples have the right to marry. Instead, good ol’ Malcolm Turnbull has decided that we should have a plebiscite, even though his government can pass the law if they choose to.

What’s a plebiscite? Well, time to get my nerd on. A plebiscite (ˈplɛbɪsʌɪt,ˈplɛbɪsɪt/) derives from the mid 16th century: from French plébiscite, from Latin plebiscitum, from plebspleb- ‘the common people’ + scitum ‘decree’ (from sciscere ‘vote for’). The sense ‘direct vote of the whole electorate’ dates from the mid 19th century (source, Google dictionary). The word is a noun and its definition is:

  1. the direct vote of all the members of an electorate on an important public question such as a change in the constitution.
  2. a colossal waste of time and $122 million (second definition is the author’s).

Why is it a waste of time? I’ll let australianmarriageequality.org take this one: “… a free vote costs nothing. A plebiscite will become a platform for hatred and division. We elect politicians to make laws, not handball them back to voters. Issues that raise religious and moral concerns are almost always resolved by free votes in parliament, not plebiscites. A plebiscite is not binding so the issue will have to return to Parliament anyway, at which point there should be a free vote. There is more community support for a free vote than for a plebiscite, especially when voters are aware of the cost of a plebiscite.”

Kinda a no-brainer, huh?

Of course, the majority of the LGBTIQ+ community has rallied around the issue, stating that all love is equal, that it’s a human rights issue, and most importantly, that there are other far more pressing issues to put that time and money towards. We are the last developed English-speaking country in the world to legalise it. It’s embarrassing.

But there’s another facet to this issue, a less buoyant, positive, fluffy facet. Yes, love is love. Yes, we should have the right to marry whichever consenting adult we like and be happy. Yes, marriage is not about gender. But on the other side of that truly beautiful coin is the sobering reminder that things can turn shit. Marriages end, dreams die, break ups are horrible and can be really messy, and the unfortunate thing is that in Australia, there’s not a whole lot of legal support for same sex divorce. Our marriages aren’t even recognised for one thing, so it’s stay married forever, or go back to the country you got married in and become domiciled, and then apply for a costly divorce. Break ups are disruptive enough, but the added insult of not actually being able to legally divorce the person one legally married in another country means that closure is deferred, the connection to one’s ex is still active, and salt is rubbed in the open, suppurating wound.

As it stands, my marriage was not taken seriously by some members of the communities I am a part of (much in the same way that my sexuality isn’t taken seriously, but that’s a different post). Therefore, by extension, my divorce is not taken seriously, and that adds to the devastation. My need to cut ties, move on, perhaps even marry someone else is thwarted by this myopic view of a relationship that was very real (if I want to marry a man in the future, I can’t, as I will be committing bigamy in every country in which same sex marriage is recognised). It’s a cruelty on top of an already hurtful situation.

Divorce rituals are important for healing. Many cultures and religions around the world have rituals that are designed to break the bond and ease the suffering of both parties involved. People throw divorce parties. A temple in Japan allows visitors to literally flush their failing relationship down the toilet. I could do all the rituals in all the world, but still, the country I live in doesn’t give me or my ex the option to make it legal. And that’s shit.

I hope that this plebiscite will not go ahead, because there are many, many people that I love (including myself) who will be affected by the inevitably hateful ‘No’ campaign. The anti-marriage equality lobbies that we have in Australia are champing at the bit to unleash their homophobic vitriol upon my community, and this plebiscite will give them leave to do so with relish.

However, I fear that it will go ahead, so I’m throwing everything I have into campaigning for an overwhelming ‘Yes’ vote – even if it isn’t binding, even if the government continue to be a pack of cowards, even if it doesn’t lead to an immediate legalising of same sex marriage, I will still vote yes. I hope all my Australian readers will do so too (mind you, if you’re a regular reader of this blog and you don’t vote yes, my mind boggles as to what you’re doing here).

Once upon a time, I campaigned and protested to have my love recognised. Now I’m campaigning to have the end of it recognised. Equality is equality.

Born to Love, Cursed to Feel

I can be on my own. I’m actually quite good at it. I enjoy my own company. I think I’m funny, smart and a good conversationalist. I could talk to myself for hours. I can be silent by myself for longer. I function better, actually, on my own. I have more money, I eat better, my career thrives, I’m thinner. I’m better on my own.

I never expected forever; I wasn’t brought up in a family of forever, but I must admit I got used to the idea of it. I felt like I could relax. I had no fear of making future plans.

I’ve been in love before.  I have loved keenly and powerfully, but with you, I don’t know, it was different. I can’t even say why it was different. I mean, I can give you reasons, like my eye was never turned (except once by an old high school friend who lives in New Zealand so there was no chance of anything coming of it and I wouldn’t have done anything anyway because I was so ridiculously in love with you). Like I could be myself around you, my full mentally unwell, ageing, thickening, witchy, farting and burping self. Like my family loves you. Adores you even. Like I could be wrong and you still thought I was cool. Like, I married you.

And then you lied to me. You did something that hurt me and you lied about it. I was angry and betrayed and I did what I knew I was allowed to do and I felt that anger and betrayal and I didn’t let you slide away from it softly. But I was prepared to forgive because I have been forgiven. I was prepared to love you anyway because I have been loved anyway and to be honest, I couldn’t help but love you. I always knew that I would with you.

It was hard, don’t get me wrong. Everything you did triggered (I hate that word) what had happened with my ex, and all that distrust, that black, sticky doubt came creeping back in, but I wouldn’t let it infect me like it did back then. It was a struggle, but I was determined. Sometimes it overtook my thoughts and strangled them because my BPD doesn’t let go easily, but I was working through it and trying to find ways around it. Understanding myself and my own hand in it. Understanding you and where this behaviour comes from. I understood. It didn’t take the pain away, but it would have eventually. If you had just held on.

But it was too hard. Facing up to not being perfect, owning that sometimes you’re an asshole – just like every single member of the human race is sometimes an asshole – was too hard for you. The fighting that is inevitable after a bond has been tested was too hard for you. The work that had to be done was too overwhelming because you believed you couldn’t do it. You believed you weren’t worth it. So you left. And again, I understand. But my God, it cuts deep into the depths of my soul, a place that I have kept wrapped up and hidden away from the world. The path to that place was something I allowed only a very few of you to discover. A wiser person would grow vines around that path, obscuring it, allowing no one to ever again stumble upon it. But it appears I’m not wise, because I would let you find it once more. You left your mark there. It wants you back.

I was put on this earth to love. I am a nurturer, a guide, a gardener. I am a welcomer and a helper. A healer. But I forget that I need those things too, and I am cursed to feel all my experiences and all of yours and yours and yours and yours and I am left empty and broken but I still feel. I cannot stop feeling.

I am not perfection in any way other than my imperfection. I am a child, stumbling around in the dark, pretending I know the way, faking it until I make it. Life taught me that I must be prepared to make mistakes in order to grow, so I have made them gleefully at times, ready for the wisdom that comes with it. I am a hermit, I am insular, I block people out because I feel too much, I isolate myself because the voices in my head are too much company. I’m a terrible friend one minute and the best person to be around the next. I am selfish and selfless, I am strong and fragile. I am beauty incarnate and the hag of your nightmares. I am the queen of the Universe and the muck on your shoe.

This is who I am. And I will walk this trail again and again until the day I die. I’d just prefer to walk it with you.

An Open Letter to the Man Who Broke My Heart

I write this, safe in the knowledge that the likelihood of this ever being read by the person in question is quite infinitesimal.

This relationship has been going on and off and on and off for nigh on three years. We have been through a storm of trying times together and apart, but we seemed to always find our way back to each other. We couldn’t help ourselves. We couldn’t walk away.

Until now.

There has always been factors against us: age, history, mental illness, his family, infidelity, but we battled through because we didn’t care about anything except how we felt about each other. We were too strong together. We loved each other.

We were about to go on a new relationship adventure together when suddenly things changed. For him. The off switch has been flicked, and I suspect it will stay off. I cannot turn it back on again. Not again.

So I write, because that is what I do. I write to express, to let go, to say all those things my heart can’t articulate in spoken word. Maybe it is voyeuristic for you to witness, dear reader, but I have never been one to shy away from open expression.

So here it is.

I want to eradicate you from my life. I want to rip your memory from my body; trade in the parts you claimed to love with such ardour. I want to erase every whispered sentiment, every passion filled exclamation, every declaration of love. Because, as you claim, every such utterance was a lie.

And oh, how you lied! Oh, how I believed. I thought I could be free and safe. I thought I was secure in tearing down the walls of self protection to let you see the flawed yet beautiful creature within.

How wrong I was. Lulled into that false sense of security by a selfish, scared little boy who talked big but walked small, I failed to see the deception. I failed to notice the apron strings of a self righteous, judgmental mother tangle their way through our tenuous single bond. I failed to see how weak you truly are, and how you could not have survived half of what I have lived through.

I never claimed to be a heroine of epic proportions. All I wanted you to see was my humanity. I never wanted pity. I never wanted concessions. I wanted to be understood. I wanted to be loved.

I found comfort in Martha Wainwright’s exalted, melodic assertations, you bloody mother fucking asshole, but then I remembered your devotion to her brother, and now even the music I retreat into is sullied by your presence.

I wish you failure. I wish you protracted periods of darkness. I wish you to ache for me, for what you have done. I wish for you to feel so alone that even the sun seems to shun you. I wish you separation from your family, disconnectedness, and an overwhelming feeling of being forgotten. I wish you isolation. I even wish you despair.

Interestingly enough, I do not wish you these things with any antipathy or malicious intent. I actually wish them with love. This even surprises me. Because through all this betrayal, all this cruel back and forth, erratic behaviour that you have exhibited, through all this pain you have heaped upon me in unrelenting waves, I wish for you to grow. I wish for you to understand yourself to better understand others. Only then will you be a man worth loving. Only then will you be a man.

And so I walk away, taking my sore, embittered heart with me. I remove my light from your world for the simple reason that you never thought I would. And if you think your absence from my life will cause me to fall, to harm myself, or even to utter a cry of anguished sorrow, hear this:

I have survived without you before. I will again. Effortlessly.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

I have trouble letting go of stuff, I can admit that. When a play I’ve been involved with ends; when a friend moves away; Joss Whedon’s Firefly. If one is in a situation in which one is comfortable, and then that situation changes, it can take a while to adjust. I think a lot of people can relate. But do you know what bugs me? What shits me up the wall, in fact? The Ex Boyfriend.

Oh yay, another blog about a failed relationship, woo! Yes, okay, it’s not very original, but I need to vent.

Why is it, that the most mundane and ordinary things make me think about The Ex Boyfriend? On my way home from work, I drive down a street that he and I walked down TWICE, and I always think of him. I get in the shower and as soon as the water hits, I think of him. Radiohead’s Lotus Flower comes on the radio (we listened to it together ONCE), I think of him. I walk down to the mailbox, see a red car (any red car), light some incense, hear a particular turn of phrase, I think of him. It’s been seven months since we split. Seven months!!! We don’t see each other at all. It’s kinda getting ridiculous. He wasn’t even a particularly good boyfriend, really. There were moments when he was actually quite horrible to me. But, there he is, in my head. All the time.

That’s the thing about change, though. I didn’t want the break up, but it’s what needed to happen. And I’ve noticed about myself that I rant and rave against change while it’s happening, but once I give it a chance to settle in, I see the benefits, and actually enjoy the “new” life that that change has implemented. Heartbreak seems to be different, though. The change of ending a relationship is often linked to feelings of loneliness, rejection, isolation, self-loathing, and a big chunk of despair. The stuff that comes after that is excellent (re-validation, self-acceptance, alone time, a new hair cut), but getting there can be a long, drawn-out process (it took me three years to get over an ex girlfriend from 8 years ago, and that was horrid). And every time it happens I say the same thing: “I know this feeling! It’s heartbreak. I don’t need to experience this again, I know what this is!” But there it is, that feeling of blurgh that sits in the chest and slowly advances outwards to infiltrate the nervous system, brain stem and outer extremities to leave me a quivering, red-faced, snotty mess.

Sappho the Cat. The cure for everything. Photography by Phoebe Taylor

Sappho the Cat. The cure for everything.
Photography by Phoebe Taylor

My friends patiently tell me that it takes time. Yes, I know that too! And half my problem is that my pride is dented: here is this person who didn’t deem me important enough to fight for, who dumped me even if in reality it was a mutually agreed separation, who seems to be getting over me right fine and proper, and I’m still thinking about him? I am hung up on him? Oh no. No no no no no, I am a strong, independent woman who needs no man – no anybody to feel validated as a human being! I am gorgeous and smart and talented and … and … when is he gonna come back? *Sob*

Urgh.

Look, I’m no longer angry. Neither am I crying myself to sleep anymore. Intellectually, I know it’s over and the “new” life post break-up is waiting for me, and it’s gonna be awesome. But my heart still aches a little, because it’s been bruised. There’s still the shadow of grief lingering in the back end of my psyche because I failed at something. There’s still that all-too-human desire to be connected with someone special that has been left unfulfilled. And all I can do, just like everyone else, is give it time.

Time. Hmmm. I might go watch Firefly again