A New Year

It’s New Year’s Eve, 10.25am, I’m sitting on the floor of the kitchen of my best friend’s place where I’ve been sleeping on the couch for the past 4 months or so. I’m silently sobbing, my glasses pushed up onto my head because they steam up when I cry. My best friend and my brother are in the only bedroom of the flat, lost in their new found love. I’m happy for them. It makes me cry harder.

I am surrounded by beautiful, supportive, wonderful friends and family. I am loved. I am respected. I am supported. But I feel so very alone.

I’m stronger now than I have been in a while. I’ve made peace with the shitty things that have happened this year. I’ve been apologised to by the person who broke my life. I apologised to the person before me for my part in breaking her life. I’m looking better than I have in years. I have a new job, I’ve started writing music again, I’m generally calmer and I laugh a lot.

I’ve been told that I have a new love on the horizon, that 2018 will bring me great happiness and success. I’ll take the happiness and success, but I don’t want the new love. My heart is already taken. Yes, it is in the hands of someone who by all accounts doesn’t deserve it.  But that’s who I am. I made the biggest commitment I have ever made in my life to her. It was legal, it was sacred, and it created a bond that is nigh impossible to break.

And I have no shame in admitting that that makes me feel like an idiot.

It’s not a case of not being able to let go. I can and I have. I don’t expect a happy ending to all this, even though we’re both doing our best to heal. She has been humble, contrite and apologetic. She has acknowledged the bullshit she put me through. She has asked nothing of me except an ear to listen. I have not been soft on her. I have been hard and blunt and unwavering. She has taken it and is hopefully applying it to her life. I haven’t forgiven her, not yet, because at times the pain is still so great that it leaves me breathless. Things were done that cannot be undone. They cannot be fixed. That’s okay, things happened as they happened, and I have learned so much and grown so tall.

But she doesn’t love me. At least, not enough to try to mend our broken marriage, and that’s her prerogative. I, on the other hand, still love her. It makes me feel foolish and I know it’s useless, but it is what it is. True love isn’t always reciprocated. Real love isn’t flowers and rainbows. Real love connects two people by an invisible thread that never breaks, no matter how far apart they are. Authentic love understands that people fuck up and do horrible things and it accepts that truth and loves anyway. My love understands that underneath all the crap and narcissism there is still a good person who deserves compassion. My love accepted the imperfections in her perfectly.

So, I can let her go, but I will always love her. I don’t want someone new because I won’t be able to give them the fullness of my love because it belongs to someone else. That’s not fair to them, whoever they are. It will take me years to learn to live with that unbroken thread, and I would hate to have the spectre of my failed marriage to hang over anyone else’s head. At least, not now.

So, I’ll be alone. And that’s honestly okay. This whole experience has taught me that my value does not lie in others’ opinions of me. It has taught me that despite the bad things I’ve done, I do not deserve to be treated badly. It has taught me that I don’t have to give up my life for someone else, that I don’t need to constantly prove that I’m worthy of their love. The only person I have to be worthy for is me, and I can be happy with that.

Even if I am an idiot who still longs for the person who almost destroyed me.

I’ll cry when I need to. I’ll be sad and I’ll miss what might have been if we had taken the chance and healed together. I’ll feel the tug of her, of this person I know so well, who I loved at her darkest. I’ll feel that tug and it will stop my heart for a moment but then I’ll keep going.

The American author Elizabeth Gilbert once said: “People think your soulmate is your perfect fit and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soulmate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.”

That’s all I wanted, really. Just that. I had it once and I’m happy I have.

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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.

The Right to be Human

I am writing today as a human being, born with the same rights as every other human being in this country. Born to believe in whatever spiritually makes sense to me; born to follow whatever dream I may have for my life; born to live freely in a Western country that embraces every human as an equal inhabitant. Equal, that is, as long as I’m straight.

Australia is supposed to be a free country. We arrogantly call ourselves part of the first world, an appellation we give to this country due to industry, opportunity, freedom of expression, and human rights. But that’s bullshit, because in Australia, gay people are not equal. Gay people do not have the same rights as every other citizen. A gay person is not allowed to marry their partner.

Now, I’ve heard every argument under the sun: the mother of my ex-girlfriend (yes, a woman with a gay child) questions the validity of the government putting energy into marriage equality as “there are so many more important things to consider, like our economy!” The ex-boyfriend’s mother said it was not a governmental issue because “marriage is a religious concern.” Julia Gillard, our Prime Minister, says she doesn’t believe in marriage equality because “it goes against my upbringing”. And spare me the religious diatribe that states that “homosexuals are an abomination against God”, ’cause I don’t believe in your God, and the Universe I am connected to doesn’t give a fuck who I share my bed with.

What this whole thing boils down to for me is that it’s about basic, fundamental human rights. These human rights are being violated, which makes it an extremely important governmental issue. Marriage ceased to be solely a religious convention decades ago – thousands of heterosexuals have non-religious marriage services conducted by civil marriage celebrants. It is definitely a legal issue. There is no demand for marriage between gay people to be recognised by the Church anyway, so the point is moot. And if you, like Julia, were brought up to be a bigoted, prejudicial idiot? Well, change. You’re an adult, aren’t you? You have the capacity for independent thought, yes? If that’s troubling for you, try this on: imagine you love someone so much you want to marry them, but you can’t because your government says you’re not allowed to. Imagine that the very act of loving that person was considered a crime in some Western countries a few short years ago. Imagine that holding your lover’s hand in public (or even behind closed doors) could get you hanged, shot or bashed. Now what do you think?

Photo by Christopher Bryant

Photo by Christopher Bryant

Look, not every gay person wants to get married, just as not every straight person does. The point is, the marriage equality fight is for the right to choose, just like straight people have the right to choose. And what will happen if gay people are allowed to marry? Well – hold on to your hats, people – some gay people will get married. That’s it. So, what’s the big deal?

This effects all of us. We all have a connection, however tenuous, to someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, and is therefore being discriminated against by our government. All I am asking you to do, is open your mind and your heart. Change is coming.

P.S. In case you’re wondering, my sexual orientation is irrelevant. I’m writing as a human being, with the same rights as every other human being in this country. That is all.