Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Behind Closed Doors....

I haven't written for so, so long.  It's been like an itch I haven't been able to scratch - excruciating. But the last few nights I have laid awake thinking so much I felt compelled to write. I must say something. I must open up. Otherwise it's cowardly. I know a lot of others are offering their opinions on Nigella Lawson. The fact that it is leading news is indicative of several things. Our ridiculous thirst and fascination with celebrity being the least important.  Statistics are flying at us like missiles Journalists quoting "one woman per week killed by her partner in Australia". Why are we not hearing about these women? Where are their funerals? Their stories?  Buried in the silence of shame that surrounded their lives?  Disguised as "tragic accidents"?

It's such murky ground. Behind closed doors..... It's not "our" business.

Well it is.  It was my business. It was my life. I was the victim of domestic violence.  Although, like Charles Saatchi, he refused to admit that it was.  When I saw that man's hands around Nigella's  neck I felt them. Again.  When I saw her trying to cajole him, pleading with her words and her eyes for him to calm down, to stop, to love her, I felt all that. Again. When I saw them leave separately - her in tears, he in a rage, I was there. Again. 

Same but different.

Apparently hands around my neck and throwing me repeatedly against a wall do not constitute violence because he "never hit me "  "never threw a punch".  The fact that police were called, (twice)? That was just me being "dramatic".  He didn't punch me. I didn't have a black eye. My bruises were in places hidden. So it wasn't domestic violence.  Uh huh.....

My shame was like a cheap, synthetic blanket. It wasn't keeping me warm but I couldn't take it off. I was scared what was underneath. I was at fault. I was dramatic. I was hard work. I was making some of it up.... wasn't I?

As Mia Freedman wrote this week, domestic violence needs a circuit breaker.  Mine came in the form of a friend who "just knew".  Because she had been through it herself. She to told me to "leave". "Leave now. I'll loan you some money to get yourself sorted. You can pay me back when you're on your feet." These words were my  lifeline. I knew I had to run. Get my son and run.

So I did,. And I never looked back.  He tried it again. The control was slipping from him and it brought out the beast. But this time I felt less shame.  More anger. And determination that my life would be beautiful again.  The steps I made every day towards this new life were joyous and liberating. Putting oil in my car, learning internet banking.... I know - embarrassing that I was not doing it previously right.  But there I was, a thirty something emancipated, strong woman. I would never let anyone let me feel any less than powerful and respected again.

  But the fear creeps in, doesn't it? The little niggling feelings that pull you back under that synthetic, horrible scratchy blanket. Believe me I know.

 But you can shake it off. Knit yourself a beautiful, soft, warm woollen one that you can cuddle up to. One that will protect you but not make you believe that is the only option.  Or sew a patchwork quilt that shows your story in all it's bitter sweet glory. Be proud of where you've come from.

Open the closed door.  Let in the light.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Three in the Bed

Okay - so I am on the home stretch of this pregnancy. As I said to a friend today, "it's getting a bit uncomfortable with this sub-lease of my body". I know that every day my baby is getting stronger and more and more equipped for life outside my womb. I'm not willing her to come sooner. I just wish the time would go fast. Very fast.

Sleeping is the hardest part. This little lady seems to exert her presence at every opportunity and I have a feeling she is going to be rather headstrong. It has been 12 years since I gave birth to her brother but my memory is quite acute and I swear he was nowhere near as bossy. I get whacked in the side if my position doesn't seem appropriate to her and she seems to like to party a lot in the wee hours of the morning (hope this isn't a sign of things to come when she's 16). I'm also visiting our ensuite 4 or 5 times a night. Too much information? You just wait...

Apart from the not sleeping due to movement - I'm also not sleeping due to non-movement. I am sure all expectant mothers have been there. You are constantly checking and worrying and making sure that everything is okay. To feel your little one move is reassurance and the "okay" to go to sleep. I have spent quite a few hours lying there in waiting for her to move.

Things change with pregnancy. "Relations" being one of them. I have decided to let something come between myself and my husband. A kind of threesome if you will. Yep. The bold move. I needed to do it for myself. And for him. So I stop whinging...

Relax - it's just a body pillow. A big long sausage one. But we are fighting over it. It's all fine at the beginning of the night. I wrap myself around it like a contortionist and claim ownership at sleep drop off. But on my return from one of my numerous bathroom visits or some alteration to my positioning, I find S has stolen it and is hugging that thing like it's his right and possession. It so obviously isn't. It's mine! The least I can have to reward me of carrying OUR child through these months with due care and love and patience.

I have never met another heterosexual man in my life who says he would love to be pregnant. But that's my husband. He wishes it was him! Well so he says. I scoff -of course. He doesn't know what I know. The finale is hardly beer and skittles. Childbirth is akin to a volcano ripping through your body. It is pain that you thought you knew multiplied by 1,000,000. I wish it was him - just for an hour. Just so he could know & grant some more respect - and stop stealing my pillow! He recently went through day surgery to repair a hernia. Apparently the non-painful kind. But if left could have developed into something sinister. I called it his faux pregnancy. And I was only half kidding. I think he willed it on due to his desire to be apart of it all. S is an amazing father. One of the many reasons I love him to death. But seriously - butt out. This is a woman's zone. I wish I could share it more - I really do. If men could share the burden that would be truly fantastic. But they can't.....

Women of the world unite. I remember after my last birth I said that I now had the most profound respect and love for all women of the world. It is a huge and amazing thing we do. I am glad to be a woman & I'm privileged to have this job. I kind of understand S's longing to be more a part of it. As it would be kind of humbling to just be the spectator.

Saying that - he is being a pretty good & loving supporter. I think he will make a great birth partner. I don't think I will yell or swear at him. Although who knows? Last time I was pretty zen. But I didn't have a partner with me then. And my mother didn't really deserve to be screamed at - poor love. She was pretty amazing too. Massage and general mother loving was so welcome and helpful. I think everyone should have a doula like my mother on hand at birth. I'm hoping that my sense of containment will return and I will be a centered and controlled avenue to the world for our daughter. I'm pretty relaxed about it all. Not really that scared as, at least this time I know what I'm in for.

But I'm not naive either. And I'm saying here and now that I want accolades. And presents. I want cheers and champagne and balloons and flowers & promises of pampering and beach holidays. I want it all. I know I deserve it!

The sub-lease is nearing it's term of occupancy and my body (although lets face it - somewhat altered) will be returned to me - apart from my boobs that is. Breast feeding will be the next thing. In the meantime - just give me back my pillow. I am no good at threesomes.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Whole Work, Kid Thing....

So I’m having a tough week at work. It’s long overdue. Been a while since I just wanted to run away and escape. I’m one of those annoying people who say “I love what I do.” “It doesn’t feel like work most of the time”. “Find something you love and get paid for it” “Blah, blah, blah”…. Yep. Annoying.

But this week is testing me. People are unpredictable and as I deal with people and emotions things are going to happen from time to time that test my metal. I just don’t understand why they happen all at once? When it rains it pours, and as South-East Queensland finds itself on the brink of another flood crisis (God forbid) I find myself pondering my own inner crisis and salvation.

My salvation? Its children.. I'm acknowledging how lucky I am to have them. And to have that balance. I need them this week. I’m not complaining about juggling kids and work. I’m relishing the fact that I have them. They are a blessing and a joy. Simple compared to adults….. Most of the time.

It’s also back to school week. That week that Kleenex sales go up by 50% and wine bars are suddenly filled by 11:00am with yummy mummies relishing their regained freedom. My son has started year seven. His last year of primary school. He is very proud, being head of the school and seems (so far but only two days in mind you) to be taking his role quite seriously. I’m very proud of him. He makes my heart sing.

As I write, my step son is at my feet, playing very earnestly with his cars. His latest edition, his Lamborghini is due for a service – new wheels apparently. My husband works from home on Wednesdays and the time with him is precious and treasured. Lately he has been complimenting me no end and learning the art of charm. To be called “cool and beautiful” is pretty bloody good. Coming from a 4 year old who is notorious for speaking the truth is extra special. I am lapping it up. And of course contributing to that garage collection. Surely a matchbox Lamborghini is a small price to pay for such glowing words & boost to one’s self esteem.

I’m entering my third trimester of pregnancy next week. We are so excited and overjoyed. Already this little girl is so immensely loved. I have felt like I knew her right from the start. The day before I found out I was pregnant I spoke to her. I just knew. And knew it was her. I’ve been waiting for a long time and I kind of had the feeling she was coming. When S and I found out for sure that she was a girl I burst into tears. I looked over at S and will never forget what he said. “I’m going to be completely overwhelmed any second” and he looked just that. Happy beyond words, overwhelmed and so damn proud!

I went to the toilet and said out loud “thank you”. I hope God doesn’t mind being spoken to in a hospital toilet cubicle. I’m sure it’s not that uncommon. To know that our “wished for child” is healthy and who we thought she was, is an incredible gift and not something that we will ever take for granted.

She's certainly a mover and shaker this one. Constantly "kicking" day and night. I hope she sleeps more when she's out in the world. Something tells me I've got a live wire on my hands. This is what I've signed up for... no complaints!

All our children are gifts. The love for them is so compounding and all-encompassing that it’s hard to put into words. I have said over the years to people contemplating children that if you think you know what love is – then multiply it by 10 million. But it’s actually immeasurable.

So on this week when some people are pissing me off, to be blunt, I am thankful for my blessings of my kids. I am blessed. I know. The struggle & inability to have children for some is heartbreak beyond words.

Children will break your heart. I’m just so lucky to have this love inside me that I will put my heart on the line for the rest of my life. Bring on more heartbreak, immeasurable love and cries of joy in hospital toilet cubicles. Kids rule.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Modern Fairytale (The Cinderella Model)

In my work I’m often astounded by what I see & hear goes on in the dating world. Clients recounting their stories to me can induce a range of emotions – bewilderment, empathy, second hand grief, amusement or embarrassment. What I always try to do is get two sides of the story (because except for the most blatant cases of abuse or wrong doing) there are always two sides - if not four or five...

I decided early on in the conception stages of my business that I was only going to accept clients that can truly contribute to a relationship as they are in a good and healthy relationship with themselves. Or if they were not – I would help them get there before I introduce them to a potential partner. It is only fair to the other party – and (this takes some convincing) to themselves. I tell my clients to look in the mirror and if they truly like what they see – then that is what is projected out to the world. If they look in the mirror and see someone who is; depressed, out of shape & not doing anything about it, miserable, needy, anxious, bitter, reliant on drugs or alcohol or in denial, then that is what other people will see – eventually even if not straight away.

Often the scariest part of embarking on a new relationship is being truly honest with ourselves. We can’t lie to ourselves for long. We try but it doesn’t cut it in the actual reality of our lives. Living real takes courage and commitment. And the rewards are there in spades if we can truly do it. This is not something we do once, but every day. If that sounds like hard work – it depends on how far back you have to go. Running a marathon is impossible for someone who hasn’t run further than the bathroom in the past year. It’s a lot easier for someone who has put in training every day.

It is such an uplifting and amazing feeling when I meet men and women alike who truly like themselves and are in healthy and real relationships with themselves. They set the bar high – and I tell them they have to – for other people (potential partners) because they can. Realistic high markers I call them, and I encourage that. What I don’t condone (and concede I can’t help) are the unrealistic markers who seem to need another person to lift them to a status that is neither possible nor healthy. There are many examples of this. What I’m exploring today are the men who are intent on finding a princess but are not prepared to accept the everyday woman. And the woman who cannot accept the fact that even Cinderella (the most famous princess of all, in my book anyway) was first introduced to the world in rags and working out with a mop & bucket.

Cinderella is a pretty cool chick, if you think about it. First of all – she wasn’t a victim. Several accounts of her have us believe that she sings while she does the housework and, instead of feeling sorry for herself around her horrific sisters, she just gets on with the job. I like to believe that Cinders had the self-belief and knowledge to know that if you truly like who you are, work hard on yourself (can you imagine her abs from all that floor scrubbing? Or her inner strength from all the silent mantras she had to repeat daily?) you can overcome any circumstances and rise up to happiness & an amazing life.

I’m not advocating – waiting on a Prince Charming to save you. Far from it. Cinders saved herself. She didn’t balk at the prospect of going to the ball. She accepted help from those she needed to get herself there (outsource people, outsource) and had the inner confidence to strut it out on the dance floor and wow her prince.

The other big tip here ladies is that she adhered to a curfew. The midnight call is a great one to remember. Her prince was left charmed, intrigued and still in pursuit. What if she’d said “Stuff it! I’m probably never going to see this man again and I’m enjoying this never ending supply of vodka & orange too much. I’m staying” and woken up in her dirty work clothes with a shocking hangover and regret. She possesses a bit of a slutty side – which is great when in a relationship (lucky Prince of Charm) but, like all good things, is desired more if given in increments – rather than all at once. If she’d let the coach turn into a pumpkin and had no ride home her prince wouldn’t exactly be going the length and breadth of the land to find her. She was right there in front of him – along with her vomit bucket. You hear what I’m saying here girls don’t you? Go home! And wait for him to call you. Because he will. If he likes you. And if you like you. And if he doesn’t then he’s not your prince. He’s still out there. You just have to believe it. Keep the bar raised. The right man will not make you lower it.

And guys – when Prince Charming did go out in search of the lovely, enchanting, sexy woman he met the night before, he found her. She didn’t look the same as the night before. She was wearing some god awful house dress. But he could still see the lovely, enchanting, sexy woman underneath, despite her lack of trimmings. He didn’t need all that to know that the essence of her was fantastic and he couldn’t wait to get to know this down to earth chick as well as the mythical creature he’d been dreaming about since she left him. He knows that life (he comes from a very practical kingdom where his parents taught him to look after himself and not take advantage of privilege) is not always a fairy tale. And that Cinders will probably piss him off no end (her singing is actually really bad and she insists on staying in touch with those bitches of sisters) sometimes but he loves that part of her too. She’s real. But, just remember - she still needs to get dressed up for the ball every now and then…..

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

LITTLE DATING DIARY #4 Brio Espresso & Juice, Teneriffe

Set along the strip on café’s at Teneriffe in between The London Club and Claret House, this is a little gem. Sunny in the morning which in a godsend on a windy wintery morning, the crowd is very Teneriffe aka young, relaxed, beautiful & seem to have their own unique time schedule.

I hadn’t had breakfast so I ordered scrambled eggs which were to die for. The juice list was expansive (this is what they are famous for – you can even add alcohol after 10am). I went for the non-alcoholic variety of apple, pineapple & mint. Was amazing. You could almost taste the tree still in the fruit (in a good way) . And my good old favourite English breakfast tea was in a good (non leaky) pot with an excellent strainer that you didn’t have to wrestle with or find a large chunk of tea at the bottom. You would be surprised how many people (insert Don Burke) up tea – believe me and it annoys the hell out of me.

The first girl serving me seemed like she wanted to be anywhere else but (she may have been having a bad day or just broken up with her boyfriend) but the next guy and the staff inside were all great, cheerful and warm. I bought a chocolate crackle for the boys and accidently left it there. Half way up the street, one of the guys runs up and gives it to me with a massive smile and a “you forgot your crackle”. Was a nice gesture and a gentle reminder to always remember my crackle...

This could be a good regular for a resident or worker of Teneriffe. Sorry I can’t report on the coffee but it looked and smelled great if that’s any help? And heading into the summer months – those juices are serious stuff for the healthy de toxers out there.

So for locals a big tick. Cannot comment for the weekend. Can imagine they would get extremely busy. Although I did notice they serve breakfast till 5pm! (see told you Teneriffe has its own time zone).