Dating Apps: The Oddities of dating in the 20-teens.

Dating Apps Humour

“Back in my day people met in person and went on dates” declared an aunt recently, this was seconded by my mother and agreed upon by my grandmother.  “Back in my day people did the same thing, but times have changed” was my response.

I have always maintained that I am NOT a dating app kind of girl.  Putting myself out there on what I felt was the equivalent of a virtual meat market, wasn’t in any way appealing.  Having been single for almost 3 years, I gave in to peer pressure and decided to give dating apps a try.  I set myself a target of 3 months and I tried no less than 7 different apps, and boy was it an eye opener!

Over the years it has become apparent that I possess a quality that attracts people and makes them feel comfortable confiding in me.  Whether it is a random man on the train telling me in graphic detail, in front of my children, about how he was raped by a bad man.  Or a woman (who stopped me on the footpath between my car and a friends home) to discuss with me the difficulties she was experiencing with her husband in relation to their upcoming retirement – her family was in Ireland, his family was in Canada and they were arguing over where to live when they retired.  When I got into my friends home she asked who had I been talking to out there and I said “I have no idea, just some woman walking her dog” and she exclaimed “But you were out there for ages!  I heard all about her family from here!” to which I replied “I know.  It happens all the time.  This is why I avoid public transport!”.

Because of this quality, dating wasn’t much fun for me as I seemed to attract men (and women for that matter) who had things that they needed to get off their chests.  They seem to feel like I was someone they could be honest and open with (which I am, but perhaps not before I know their name).  So I would be out at a club and I would hear sob stories about exes, or family dramas of varying kinds.  Being a genuinely kind person and a good listener who is very empathetic, the men were left feeling quite close to me whilst I would be wanting to go and enjoy my night with my friends.  Being young and unsure how to handle my own emotions, let alone someone elses, I didn’t want to hurt these poor guys and I had a lot of trouble easing myself away from some of the more persistent ones.  I often recruited one of my guy friends to pretend to be my date to show the guy that I was unavailable to them.

I have never been one of those gals who needed a guy, I have always been quite happy on my own.  Which I guess is why the idea of speed dating, dating sites & dating apps have never appealed to me.  But I decided to be open minded and give them a go.  The thing I discovered was that dating apps were a lot easier, less intimidating and safer than meeting people in real life.  It might be completely different than how it was done my first time around, but it is certainly an effective way of shortlisting potential dates.  However, it can seem fairly impersonal and almost like a job interview sometimes.  Me being me though, I “met” some real doozies!  Here are the most memorable characters from my short stint at Dating Apps (no doubt most people have encountered at least one of these types of people in their own foray in dating):

Puppy Love  A very nice looking man wrote to me on one dating app.  He was the first guy I clicked with and thought it was a stroke of luck that I had found a sweet, kind, affectionate (emojis), complimentary and supportive man straight off the bat.  He didn’t rush me into meeting him or venturing outside my comfort zone.  We chatted, flirted and got to know each other a little.  I was looking forward to meeting him and seeing if our easy companionship would extend beyond the virtual.  That is of course until the conversation turned sexual…  He started making enquiries into what I liked in the bedroom.  This was a bit alarming as that is most definitely not the way things were done back in my day!  I managed to steer the conversation back into less intimate waters.  But within days it took a sexual turn once more.  This time he asked questions about how adventurous I was in the bedroom, specifically if I was interested in threesomes to which I responded in the negative.  To my relief he was happy with my response as he revealed his ex  broke up with him because he wouldn’t agree to a two man threesome.  I thought this was fairly reasonable and I could understand his refusal, as well as his interest in persuing the topic with me.  But, the story didn’t end there!  He disclosed that he agreed to a two woman threesome but when he refused to consent to a two man threesome they compromised using his dog.  I was confused by this and sought clarification.  To my shock, horror and disgust this man went on to tell me that the compromise was that she would engage in sexual acts with his dog and he would watch.  I didn’t know what to say!  So I asked if that was something he was into and would want me to do.  TO WHICH HE REPLIED YES!!!!!!!!!!!!  Completely and utterly freaked out I declined and swiftly ended all communication with him.  I couldn’t believe it!  I felt dirty and violated and so very relieved that I had never met him in real life!  To this day I cannot look at that breed of dog without heaving.  In fact, for the next month I swiped left on any man who had a photo of himself cuddling with a dog on the couch or in bed (so many sleeping man/dog pics!!!!!) – I have always been opposed to sharing a bed with dogs, but this guy made me take that to a whole new level!

Flashdance  This man was quite persistent.  I won’t go into too much detail as this one makes me so sick that I don’t want to spend more time thinking about it than I have to.  This man knew me years ago and was “so surprised” to see me on dating apps and really wanted to meet up with me.  When I didn’t respond he then tried to friend me on Facebook and send me messages on messenger.  I had discovered a few years beforehand that this man had been imprisoned for repetitive public indecency and child abuse charges.  He was labelled a “serial pest” as he was well known for stalking and flashing young girls in public places.  Being a mother, this man’s behaviour makes me sick and once again, so very glad that I didn’t encounter him in real life.

Perfect Gentleman  This man seemed like the perfect match for me!  He was interested in what he called “casual dating”, which he defined as exclusive dating between two people without all the drama of a full on relationship.  This sounded perfect for me, considering the lack of stress free fun in my life these days/years.  He gushed about how gorgeous I looked in my profile photos, how much he wanted to meet me and take me on a date in the city – he described my ideal fantasy date!  Even though he was coming on too strong for my liking, I gave him the benefit of the doubt because I know that I can be overly picky.  We spent the whole night chatting online and I giggled A LOT as we had a similar sense of humour.  We had so much in common, similar interests and he seemed genuinely interested in me – and not once did he get sexual or inappropriate, flirtatious yes, but he never crossed that line.  He talked about how he has always been the nice, good guy and now that he is separated he just wanted to enjoy being with someone without all the pressure.  The next morning I was greeted by a lovely message and he asked me to go on a date with him that night.  I regrettably declined as it was a school night and I had the kiddies at home.  He offered to meet me at his place for lunch.  Not having met this man before I was not prepared to go to his home straight off the bat.  He offered to meet me at my place with a bottle of wine after the kids had gone to bed so we could have a couple of glasses of wine on my balcony and plan our next date.  I told him I would think about it and let him know.  He then confessed that he had a fantasy of meeting a woman and getting a blowjob straight away.  I told him that I doubt that I would be comfortable with that on a first date.  So he seemed to swing between wanting to delay our meeting until I would be comfortable, and speeding up the meeting until lunch time that day.  Further discussion revealed that the greeting headjob was non-negotiable so I declined and wished him well.  I did some FB snooping and found that his status was still “married”, and that some of the things he talked to me about were actually interests of his wife’s!  I deduced that he had read my profile and simply fabricated his responses to match mine.  I was left feeling used and foolish.  Once again, glad I didn’t waste my time and makeup meeting that guy in person.

FWB This guy intrigued me.  He wanted to start things off as Friends With Benefits, with a view to becoming more as things progressed.  We spent a lot of time writing to each other, learning about each other, and making each other laugh.  We met and got along really well, we drank coffee, laughed and talked until he regrettably had to go back to work, he delayed his departure for over half an hour as we were enjoying each others company so much.  We continued to chat online as I supported him during his exams and he supported me and made me laugh on my bad days.  We were certainly becoming friends, but he seemed more interested in sexting than any kind of human contact.  Over 2 months we met once, chatted online a lot and made plans to meet on two separate occassions but he was a no show both times.  Once he burned himself at work, so that was a reasonable excuse not to keep the date, the second time he had failed his exam and wasn’t feeling like being around people.  Neither time did he attempt to reschedule the dates.  After the second failed attempt at meeting I didn’t hear from him again – he didn’t hear from me either.  So I chalked that one up to experience and moved on.  FWB was never something I felt would be in my wheelhouse, but a FWB without the benefits was confusing and weird.  Being a female with a post baby body that is less toned than I would like, I began to feel insecure about my body and wondered if that was the reason that the benefits part of our FWB trial didn’t really eventuate.  But at the end of the day, if any man is going to be deterred based on my looks then I don’t want to know them either.

There were several men who contacted me during the 3 months I was online and some of them were like those men in the bars when I was younger, wanting someone to listen to their sad stories and help them feel better.  One man persisted over 6 weeks writing to me.  We have similar interests and even spoke on the phone (great voice, articulate and honest).  He lives a really long way away but said he would be willing to fly to see me on weekends (that felt nice that someone would be willing to go to all that trouble just to spend time with me).  But after becoming friends on Facebook there has been radio silence on his end.  I am deducing that it is the online equivalent of being stood up on a blind date, you know the scenario where the person walks into the restaurant and sees their date then leaves because they aren’t interested in them.

Some of them were looking for a woman who was not me, but when I tried to let them down easy and tell them that based on their profile I wasn’t the woman for them, they would get upset and argue with me.  One man’s profile stated “A woman who enjoys 4WD’ing and camping is a must!”, I don’t want to go camping.  I would rather go to a resort or an AirBNB somewhere than go camping.  When I kindly explained this to the man he got offended and said “well some men can’t afford to do those things, but money is all that matters to some women!”.  Offended by the insinuation that I was only interested in what a man can buy me, I responded that it wasn’t a money thing it was simply that if I was going away somewhere I would rather be indoors than in a tent, similarly I would rather go for a picnic beside a waterfall or walk on the beach than go 4WD’ing and reiterated based on our interests that we wouldn’t be compatible.  His response was “Whatever.  It’s your loss.”.  Judging by his responses to me I don’t think it was a loss for either of us; I was very glad that I didn’t have to turn this guy down in the flesh.

I left my 3 month dating app trial with relief a few days before my deadline after my encounter with the aforementioned Perfect Gentleman, after him I knew that I was done.  It was seriously exhausting & unkind on my self-esteem swiping through all those faces, being ignored by men I was interested in, letting men down easy when I wasn’t interested in them, comforting the ones who just wanted a little human kindness, explaining why I wasn’t interested in FWB and conversing with men only to find out that it was all a farce.

Creepy AF

This is an actual profile picture…

It was also a lot of fun!  For a few weeks my bestie and I spent at least an hour every night on the phone giggling over the funny profiles we saw, sending each other screenshots of profiles and squealing “Oh My God!” whenever a penis would flash up on the screen!  Yes, some men actually use pictures of their penises as their profile picture!  It was hilarious and admittedly very immature!  There were also really creepy looking profile pictures, or ones that would make us laugh out loud as the hijinks captured on film (so to speak).  It made me feel like a teenager again giggling with my bestie as literally hundreds of men expressed interest in meeting me over those three months; over 120 men wanted to meet me in the first 7 days on the first app!  My bestie and I had an absolute ball sending each other recommendations and sharing some of the things that men wrote on their profiles.  Things like “I want to brush your hair” or, my personal favourite (which I thought was super duper cute!) “My Grandma’s knitting circle think I am handsome” ❤ ❤ ❤

Would I try dating apps again?  Maybe, but probably not.  I have never been the kind of person who needed a man, and I don’t need one now.  I thought it would be great to find someone nice to have fun, go on dates and enjoy my kid free time with, but I am still not the kind of person who needs to actively seek that person out.  I think it is more likely that I will just continue to work on becoming my best self and living my life happily with my kids, family and friends whilst vicariously enjoying the romantic lives of my besties who are having much greater success as this whole online dating caper than I did xoxo

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First Contact of the European Kind

first contact

Trio recently watched Season 1 of the SBS Documentary First Contact on Stan.  I put it on to watch while the kiddies cleaned their room and I folded washing on the couch.  The moment Uluru came on the screen GG and BB were enthralled!  At their old school they had an Aboriginal Elder, Aunty Brenda, who frequented the campus and told the children stories about dreamtime and about caring for the land & your family is super important.  At their new school there is a permanent sign acknowledging country and each assembly begins with it also.  As such, I thought it might be a program that my little people could get some benefit out of – I didn’t realise the amount of swearing that would be involved in the filming of the program, but I instructed my outraged Twosome to ignore the swear words and focus instead on what the people were trying to tell us about their thoughts, feelings and experiences.

After pausing to explain about a lot of different things, which included me signing Colours Of The Wind and many references to Disney’s Pocahontas, GG in particular seemed fascinated by the plight of the First Australian’s and watched intently as the program played.  There were tears from GG and outraged disbelief & many hugs from BB when the subject of the Stolen Generation was broached.  Their large empathy cups runneth over as they tried to fathom WHY anyone would steal children just because their skin was a different colour and because they lived differently.  They watched with fascination at the traditional dancing, hunting and community activities in both urban and rural areas.

After the first episode finally came to an end after our protracted viewing, I turned it off and sent GG and BB to at last tidy their room.  Quick as a whip and to my surprise they were back begging me to put the show back on!  Our little family sat there on that beautiful rainy day all snug on the couch and watched the remaining two episodes (I censored out some parts where I knew there was going to be particular adult content that they really didn’t need to hear about) and learned about the culture of the First Australian People.  GG and BB watched with fascination as children in remote communities went to school and learned FOUR native Australian languages as well as English – and expressed their annoyance that they didn’t get to learn any native Australian languages at their school! lol  They marvelled at communities that had no electricity, no mobile phones, playstations, ipads etc.  They laughed at the families playing together.  They listened as one lady was asked why she chose to stay living in that area of poverty and to my surprise they nodded their heads and spoke in agreement when the woman replied “Because the grave of my grandfather is here, my brothers, my mother and father, my aunts and uncles.  All their graves are here and I stay here to look after them and care for them.”.

As the final episode came to a close they both breathed a sigh, that sounded almost like relief, that it was over, but they both expressed their satisfaction at having watched it.  And believe me, I shared that same sense of relief and satisfaction.  Whilst I don’t regret watching it with them, it brought up many subjects that made me think and brought a lot of issues home to me.  Thinking of the stolen generation for a start.  That was happening when my Grandma was born and continued throughout her childhood.  My ancestors have been in Australia for 7 generations now, we came from England, Scotland and Ireland.  So it was my great grandparents and great, great grandparents generations who were the adults alive at the time that these children were being forcibly removed from their families with no intention of ever being returned nor without records being kept.  T

hat affects me as a person knowing that my ancestors were in part responsible for my peers growing up without Grandparents.  I think about my Grandparents and the profound, everlasting impact they have had on my life and I cannot imagine my life without them.  A conversation with my cousin recently echoed how I have always felt about your Grandparents, she said “They were never just ‘Grandparents’, they were a second set of parents for all of us”.  I wouldn’t be who I am today without my Grandparents and my family that they made who have shaped who I am, how I look at the world and the choices I make.  If my Grandparents were different, my parents and extended family would be different also, and I would have been shaped by that alternate reality instead of the one I was fortunate enough to be born into.

National Sorry Day was always something I was wholeheartedly in favour of, and every May 26th I speak with my children about what the day is all about.  A National Apology to the First Australian’s past and present was needed and deserved, because I WAS sorry that all of those things happened to so many people AND because I was empathetic enough to understand that just because it happened a long time ago doesn’t mean it is forgotten.  I was very pleased when, on Wednesday February 13th 2008 Prime Minister Kevin Rudd addressed Australia’s Indigenous Peoples to say sorry – not to take responsibility for the actions of the Government of the day, but to condemn the choices and express regret that it occurred.

“For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.”

Now as a parent, I feel that message even stronger in my mind and heart.  I am a mother and I honestly believe that if I was one of the women who lived back then and I had children lawfully stolen from me I would absolutely lose my mind.  I would search far and wide for my babies, I would never be able to stop looking.  Imagining my parents grief under those circumstances would be too much for me to witness, as would my own grief be for them.

I think about the children that were stolen and essentially punished for the colour of their skin.  White hot tears of rage prick my eyes at the idea of anyone treating children like that, but more so when I think about my own children being treated that way.  My blood boils and I see red at the mere thought of someone coming in and taking them from me, from our family then forcing them to become slaves who were raped, assaulted, abused and treated like property.  It makes me sick to my stomach and I loathe the Government of the day for doing this to generations of my fellow countrymen, women and children.  Because an act as heinous and reprehensible as that didn’t just impact one generation, or two, it impacted two to three generations of adults as well one to two generation of children who were all alive at the time, and it has continued to negatively shape the lives of the last three to four generations of Aboriginal children born into this country.  It will continue to cast a pall over many lives until there is sufficient education and programs to help bridge the gaping rift that the fallout from the Stolen Generation and the subsequent years of institutionalised racism, ignorance and hatred that is still rife in the Australian community at large.

When the argument is raised for changing the date of Australia Day from January 26th because it represents Invasion Day for the First Australian’s, I say DO IT!  If it helps to unify us as a country, if it helps to heal the wounds that have been festering since Australia was Invaded (not “founded” by heroic pioneers, as mine and previous generations were taught at school) I say do it!  I don’t care what date is chosen, what matters to me is that we have a national day of celebrating this great country of ours, so no matter where we are in the world we can ALL come together as one people to honour this great, multicultural nation that we all call home.  In the words of our very own Boy From Oz, the late Peter Allen:

“I’m always travelling
I love being free
And so I keep leaving the sun and the sea
But my heart lies waiting over the foam
I still call Australia home”

aussie-day

*** This amazing photo can be found on this website by clicking this text, I don’t know who the original photographer was, but to me, this is Australia! ***

What’s Loooooove Got To Do, Got To Do With It…

quote-choose-a-job-you-love-and-you-will-never-have-to-work-a-day-in-your-life-confucius-40949

… According to Confucius, EVERYTHING!  As some of you may know, since becoming aware that GG and BB were on the Autism Spectrum, I had put everything in my life on hold and devoted all my energy into consulting, researching and implementing early intervention methods to help my precious babies get the best possible start in life as research shows that for children with ASD early intervention is a crucial tool that will literally determine the quality of their entire future life!  So yeah, no pressure or anything!

For a while now I have been stuck in the age old battle of dream vs reality and it got me thinking about my dreams for my life when I was younger.  As far back as I could remember I wanted to be a Marine Biologist because I loved sharks, dolphins, whales (crocodiles too!) and I really wanted to spend my life working with them.  That dream endured until my Grade 8 Biology teacher placed cane toads and scalpels in front of us and instructed us to dissect them.  I elected to dissect flowers instead and promptly left the room to do just that whilst simultaneously attempting to settle my queasy stomach and farewelling the notion of Marine Biology as a career option.  I mean if I couldn’t dissect a cane toad, a deadly pest that I had killed many of growing up in Queensland, how was I going to take a scalpel to marine life that I revered?

From there I think I just lost all sense of direction.  I considered a career in music as I LOVE music and I sing all the time.  But music seemed more like a hobby for me than a career path.  I considered nursing, but Biology class reminded me that that wasn’t plausible.  Being a carer by nature I thought of Aged Care, but after a week of work experience in a nursing home I knew I wasn’t cut out for that.  Next came Early Childhood, I even studied it in High School, but partway through my second lot of practical assignment in a different child care centre I decided that there was NO WAY I wanted to do that for a living!  Working with a horrid child and an awfully unpleasant carer for a week made me realise that working in an environment like that would probably stop me from wanting kids of my own one day!

Then I toyed with the idea of Psychology.  I was very interested in studying Psychology as I had always been intrigued by what made people do the things they did, make the choices they made and what made us all so different.  Also, being a natural born carer and empath, people were always drawn to me.  In high school I had people of different ages and from different groups (sometimes total strangers) coming to me to tell me their problems.  Problems that were way above my paygrade!  From regrets about having sex in Primary School to cheating on their boy/girlfriend to being sexually assaulted by family members.  They all would thank me for my help, but I hadn’t done much more than listen and ask questions.  So Psychology seemed a natural fit.  Until I realised that some of the horror stories I had heard whilst at school could potentially become my everyday life.  Hearing about the absolute worst experiences a human can endure and making money off that seemed obscene to me and beyond depressing!  Those experiences were what grounded my belief that Psychology should be a bulk billed service through Medicare instead of an expensive specialty service, but I digress!

That was when I decided to lower the bar.  Lower my expectations of myself.  Everyone was asking “What are you going to do after you finish school?” or “What are you going to study at Uni?” and I had no idea how to answer that for myself let alone for anyone else!  I had started working 4 nights a week and on Saturdays at a supermarket.  For me, I was happy to simply finish school and keep working there until I figured out my next step.  I didn’t want to start a trade as I had no idea what I wanted to do.  I didn’t want to go to University because I didn’t want to go into debt without knowing exactly how I would apply any degree that I undertook.  I finished school with appallingly bad grades – I passed Dance!  That was it.  But my dream was simple and very basic.  I wanted a job that I enjoyed, a husband who was my best friend & loved me for who I was (not how I looked) and I wanted to be a mum.

Yes, I may have disappointed people and been accused of setting the feminist movement back 50 years, but at the end of the day the feminist movement was about giving women choices and I exercised my right to choose the life I wanted.  So, by the age of 19 I had a job that I loved!  I got up every morning excited about going to work!  I got there early, stayed late and I felt like I had found what I was born to do.  The first part of my dream was fulfilled and I couldn’t be happier!  I was never one of those women who “needed” a man in my life, I certainly didn’t go out looking for Mr Right on the weekends either, I was 100% content with my single life.  It was up to Mr Right to find me because I wasn’t looking.

At the age of 21 Mr Right found me!  He slid up to me, Risky Business style, at a bar while I was ordering food for the table on a girls night out.  Four months later we moved in together, within six years we were married and during our 10 year relationship he WAS my best friend and he DID love me for who I was and not the way I looked.  So at the age of 27 I achieved the second part of my dream.  Very soon afterwards at the age of 28 and again at 29 I became a mum.  By the time I turned 30 I had achieved all my dreams and I wasn’t living happily ever after.  My life had become all about my husband and my children but I had no real life of my own.

In the following years my marriage fell apart, I was a single, full time stay at home mum to two children with disabilities, I had no friends close by and very little support.  My new dream was actually more of a goal; to excel at parenting and get both my babies to a point where they would flourish in a mainstream school.  But in the back of my mind I was thinking and planning the next step.  With the words of the wise man bouncing around in my head I thought about my skills, interests and strengths and I couldn’t for the life of me decide what to focus on or how to turn these into a career I woud love.

While I LOVE my children like the stars love the night sky, the last 7 years of my life have without doubt been the hardest work I have ever undertaken and it isn’t an experience I ever want to repeat – but THAT’S a post for another day!  I worked so hard to be an excellent parent that I almost broke myself beyond repair in the process.  I strove for excellence, not for great, not for good, not for good enough, but for excellence.  Because I was doing it alone I felt that excellence was my only option, because my children deserved the best I could give.  My focus was to reach January 2017 with two children ready and capable of attending mainstream school and me commencing a “gap year” of sorts.  I knew that after such intense and extreme parenting (see previous posts for examples) that I would need time to recover, discover who I am now and figure out what I wanted to do with the next chapter of my life.

Which brings us to present day.  It is 2017, Term 4 commenced last week.  GG is doing well in grade 1, settled in well and is making friends.  She comes home every day regaling me with all the things she has learned that day and tales of the high level social politics running rife amongst her peers as they all continue figuring out how to negotiate their ever developing emotions.  BB on the other hand talks about how much he missed me and wanted me there, the things that interested him that day, the games he played with his select few friends, whether he got in trouble & we discuss why (for example, he got in trouble for lying on the carpet while a classmate was doing show and tell – he was tired, why shouldn’t he be allowed to have a little rest? lol), then he talks to me about his lunch and how many more sleeps until [insert interesting upcoming event here].

So, with only 76 days left of 2017 I decided to spend a few more hours today doing some more research on figuring out what I will be doing in 2018.  Being a full time single parent of school aged children there are several questions that I need to ask and answer in order to make decisions.  The first is a challenge my peers also face: Who is going to care for my kids during school holidays, outside school hours and take them to extra curricular activities?  That answer is easy because that person needs to be me.  I want and need to be the person caring for my children.  For my family, my children would benefit most from my presence outside school hours and during holidays.  With the way GG and BB’s minds work, it can take them a lot of time to unpack situations that they encounter, as such I feel it is imperative for me to be available to them as much as possible when they aren’t at school.  *** Note: I am not passing judgement on any parent who makes different decisions to mine.  I believe that every person is different, every family is unique and so to are their needs/challenges/solutions.  There is no one size fits all approach to family life. A xoxo ***

The second is much more difficult: Do I find a job or do I study?  This has been the most difficult question to answer as I am torn in two.  On the one hand, I feel it is my responsibility as a parent to go out ASAP and earn extra money to support my children to make our life a little more comfortable and secure.  I loved my old job in my previous life, but I didn’t hesitate to trade it in to become a parent.  With my availability to work being restricted to school days only, my old job is not an option.  Ideally a job where I can work from home with flexible hours would be my goal.  The websites of Uber, AirTasker, Pinterest etc are all getting a workout from me these days as I research a plethora of opportunities and wonder about the possibilities they might offer me.  On the other hand, if I take the time to study I could become a published author and actually live the dream I had never really dared to dream!  I could do as Confucius advised and potentially never work a day in my life.

Enter, the guilt factor BAH BAH BAAAAAAAH!!!!  I’m sure all you parents (mum’s in particular!) know what I am talking about.  The guilt that we feel if we consider doing things for ourselves instead of for our families.  Like the guilt we feel at buying ourselves a new dress or treat ourselves to a movie after school drop off instead of putting the money towards the family holiday savings.  Then I think about the example I am setting for my kids, just getting a random job and working just to get money to make ends meet instead of teaching them to set goals, follow their dreams and work towards a job that they love.  To that end, I have found a workable compromise!  I am going to study Writing AND Editing!  That way I can work towards my dream of becoming a novelist but it will also give me the option of employment opportunities in Editing and professional writing so once I am qualified I can start earning 😀  So watch this space people!  I am going to be setting myself all kinds of goals, starting with scheduling and prioritising time writing this blog!  Wish me luck xoxo

Sunshine Feelings on Rainy Days

Pluviophile

Hello there!  How are you on this gloriously rainy day?  If it’s not raining where you are you have my pity 😉

I have ALWAYS loved rainy days!  I trace it back to my days living in Far North Queensland where days were steaming hot and the sweet relief of a spring storm would roll in late in the afternoon to put on a show and cool things down for the night.  The lightning flashing across the sky, the rumbling of thunder sometimes faint other times making the walls vibrate, and the sound of the rain pounding or falling bringing an end to the humid day with the delicious smell of ozone in the tropical air.

Meanwhile, in South East Queensland, it isn’t even 4pm on a pupil free day and it is dark enough to have the lights on.  But we don’t.  My bundles of joy are curled up in winter clothes on the couch watching Spider-Man 2 while I tap away on my keyboard looking up every few minutes to appreciate the steady rainfall that we have been enjoying for the past 3 days!  A grey blanket spread across the sky, billions of precious droplets at the mercy of the cool breeze that directs their flight to earth.  In short, this is my idea of bliss ❤

I have met a person recently who is “Meteoropatico”.  Being Italian they didn’t know the English translation, but I found it, courtesy of Google & Wikipedia: “Meteoropathy (from Greek meteora, celestial phenomena, and pathos, feeling, pain, suffering) is a physical condition, or symptom associated with weather conditions such as humidity, temperature or pressure.”.  Being a pluviophile I know what being weather sensitive is like, but I just can’t fathom feeling anything but joyous on days like these, although the sad fact is that while I am energised and calmed by these delightful weather events, my friend is just as negatively, and more severely, impacted by them.

I started to notice that my elation on rainy days was completely unwelcome and unappreciated by my friend!  Thankfully, this realisation occurred on a rainy day so instead of feeling offended by their irritation with me I was highly amused and actually had a giggle to myself.  Their anger served only to endear them to me more, as their problem was beyond their control as was their reaction.  The solution to this conflict in our friendship is simply to avoid each other until the sun comes out again.  Which instead of being a sad thought, is really a very happy one for me.

It got me thinking about other relationships in my life and how I wished every conflict was as easy, sensible and painless to resolve.  Rather appropriately, Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head is playing on the Spider-Man 2 Soundtrack as I take my leave to enjoy the rest of this beautiful rainy day and bid you all adieu xoxo

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Give them their world, Portly!

We all know that break ups are hard.  Marriage breakdowns are not just hard.  Terminating a marriage is something that has to be endured and survived while you mourn the loss of your past, present and future with the person you thought you were going to spend the rest of your days with.  It is the end of special occassions together.  No more couple traditions to celebrate.  Saying goodbye to your plans and dreams for the future.  When there are children involved it becomes so much more complicated!  Not just because you have to prioritise their emotional health and wellbeing, but because you have to do all that whilst your marriage is decaying inside you.  You have to wipe their tears, manage their emotions and field their questions with age appropriate answers whilst neglecting yourself until they are ok enough that you can focus on your needs.  If you are the parent that has the kids full time or the majority of the time it becomes a delicate balancing act between keeping your shit together enought to adult and parent affectively, whilst also allowing yourself the essential act of falling apart so you can begin to put yourself and your life back together again.

We have all heard stories about couples breaking up.  We all know that it can be contentious.  We all know that sometimes people aren’t very nice to each other because they are hurting.  We all know that it is really difficult for the people in the relationship, and their children, to move on and recover from a separation.  But, what we don’t know is who was at “fault”.  I have a friend, we will call her “Carol”.  I met Carol and her partner “Portly” many years ago and we became instant friends.  Carol, Portly and I spent a lot of time together, as a result so did our children.  Portly was a lovely man who doted not only on Carol, but on all our children.  Years later my marriage ended and I began the very difficult task of full time solo parenting whilst Carol and Portly’s relationship seemed picture perfect.  Until, it wasn’t anymore.

Carol called and told me she had ended her marriage to Portly.  I was so stunned you could have knocked me over with a feather!  I had no idea that their marriage was in trouble, let alone this much trouble!  Carol confided in me that the marriage had been over for her for a really long time, but that she had stuck it out in the hopes that they could keep trying to make it work.  Carol confided in me that she felt that Portly had emotionally abandoned her and that he wasn’t willing to work on the marriage the way she needed him to.  The more unhappy Carol was the more time Portly spent avoiding her.  It is a vicious cycle that occurs all too often in relationships.  Having been so caught up in my own marital post mortem, I forgave myself for being self involved and missing the signs that Carol was so unhappy.  I grieved for my friends, Carol & Portly, as well as their children who I love like my own.  I knew all too well how difficult the next couple of years were going to be for them and I would have given so much to spare them a ride on that particular rollercoaster of emotion.  When my marriage ended an Aunt told me that the next couple of years would be a rollercoaster.  That just when I thought everything was going ok that bastard would take me crashing down again.  That was the truest and most valuable advice I have ever received.  I of course shared it with Carol to prepare her.

Not only was I shocked by the end of my friends marriage, but over the coming months I was angered and outraged by the reactions of their mutual friends.  It seemed that because Carol was the one who officially ended the marriage she was blamed for her choice as well as for Portly’s pain.  All their mutual friends made it clear that they were on Team Portly and weren’t discreet about letting Carol know it.  They rallied around Portly to clean his house, cook his food and help with child care if he needed it.

Not only had Carol endured the slow, painful death of her marriage alone, but she was also punished by Portly and their assorted friends and family for the relationship collapse.  Carol felt so isolated and alone abiding the annihilation of her life without the support of her friends – but she was not as lonely as she had been during her marriage and she took solace in that fact.  Her new life was made so much better, and worse, when by a fortunate twist of fate Carol quickly became involved with a lovely man named “Scott”.  Scott was the perfect balm for Carol’s emotional scars sustained throughout the final year of her torturously lonely marriage.  Scott brought Carol back to life and showed her how to live her life again.  He encouraged her and became one of her staunchest allies, even after the relationship ended several months later.  Scott stood by Carol when no one else would.  He reassured her, despite Portly lashing out at her with accusations that she was everything from an uncaring mother to a pathologically selfish person, that she was a good person worthy of love, time, compassion, consideration and kindness.  Scott helped Carol find the strength to stand on her own feet to support herself and her children.

During the early days of the post-CarolPortly era, Portly relied very heavily on a close friend, “Lindsay”, who Carol knew.  Within a short period of time Lindsay and Portly became an item.  They spent time with the children together, they attended social events, BBQ’s, pool parties etc hosted by Portly and Carol’s mutual friends, and, according to the unsolicited tales from the children, Lindsay had regular sleepovers at Daddy’s while the children were there.  Portly and Lindasy were embraced into the social fold.  Before a year had passed Portly & Lindsay were happily living together.

Whilst Lindsay was accepted, Scott was not.  Carol was judged for “moving on so fast”.  Carol and Scott were condemned for the demise of Carol and Portly’s marriage.  Carol was chastised for allowing Scott to spend time with Portly’s children.  Carol wasn’t allowed to express any kind of dissatisfaction about the end of her relationship with Portly, or any of the legal/emotional/social drama’s that go with it, because as she was unceremoniously reminded “it had been her choice” to leave Portly.  The implication that she had made her bed and would be made to lie in it was cruel to say the least.

On top of being alienated by her social circle, Carol also had to withstand Portly’s wrath.  He seemed hell bent on punishing Carol for not only leaving him, but also for being unhappy in their marriage to begin with.  It may seem like I had taken sides from the get go, but that wasn’t the case.  I was concious that I was only getting Carol’s side of the story and I attempted to remain impartial.  But after reading the vile, abusive, over-the-top text responses that Portly had directed at Carol since their separation I admit my failure at neutrality.  I knew Portly was hurting and I really felt for him.  But after so much time had passed and his happy life with Lindsay, I found it next to impossible to see his side when he was still spewing so much venom at Carol.

With their divorce a matter of weeks away, Carol was home alone and contacted her children to check in on them as they were on an interstate holiday with Portly and Lindsay to visit a relative and would be away from her for 2 weeks, which was unusual.  As it turns out, the relative had flown interstate and Portly had taken the children to meet them which was actually 4,000 km from the relatives home where Carol believed her children to be.  Instead of a sincere apology for failing to provide accurate information on the location of their children, Portly blamed Carol.  She should have “asked” him where they were going and insinuated that her failure to do so was proof that she didn’t care about the children.  He went on to accuse her of malicious interference because she had spoiled a “surprise” by telling them that they were going on holidays with him (Note: Carol only told them they were going away to prepare them for their extended absence from each other, and to answer their questions.).  Once again, Carol is the bad guy.

Yes, I am angry at Portly for the way he has treated Carol, because if my ex did that to me (he never would and nor would I if the tables were turned) I would be beside myself.  But more importantly, I am angry that children that I adore are caught in the middle of a fued that doesn’t need to be fought.  Children are used as weapons in wars like this all over the world every day, and for what?  Can anyone tell me?  Because I sure as hell have no idea!  It isn’t because it is what is best for the kids, no damn way!  What is best for the kids is for the parents to pull their heads in, put their shit aside and get along with their ex so that the children don’t feel a great gaping chasm in their lives separating their parents.  A chasm that they are constantly having to jump back and forth over.  It is unfair on the children as well as the other parent.  I implore all my fellow parents to look at what they are doing to their children and ask “How am I helping them by behaving like this?”.

Recently my kids had an event at school to which GG and BB, naturally, invited their dad to attend.  He drove 90 minutes to our home and all four of us walked to school together.  The kids were super excited as their dad hadn’t been to their new school before and they couldn’t wait to show him their classrooms and all the work they had been doing at school.  They chatted with us both the whole way to the school hall where he and I sat side by side with a child on our laps.  The kids pointed out their new friends to their dad and were so happy to have both their parents there with them.  As a family we sat and listened to the choir, band and speeches before exploring first BB’s Prep classroom then GG’s Grade 1 classroom before heading to the library.  GG and BB showed off their lovely new school to their dad and I provided commentary along the way too.  We headed home where there were teary goodbyes as their dad got into his car for the long drive home.  After the kids were all tucked up in bed I thought about Carol, Portly and their children and it made me so sad that their kids wouldn’t get to have a night like we had just had.  It brought it home even more when GG told Carol’s kids about that night with both her parents there and the only response GG got was a sad, low “Oh” as the realisation hit the poor child that they would never have that experience either.

It was BB’s birthday on the weekend and all he wanted was a big family party.  BB and GG were so excited that their dad and his girlfriend would be coming to their grandparent’s (my parent’s) home to celebrate.  GG was especially pleased that dad’s GF and I got along so well.  She asked us if we were friends to which we replied “yes” – she was delighted!  She talked for the next few days about how “mum, dad and dad’s GF” are all friends!  Once again I thought of Carol & Portly’s children and how they don’t get to have both parents amicably present for such special occassions as birthday’s, and it makes me dread the conversation I will no doubt witness between our children when GG & BB regale them with the story of BB’s big birthday.

These occassions in the lives of children are so significant.  They are so important and they leave a lasting impression on their little minds and hearts.  I am so relieved that after almost 3 years apart my ex and I are friends and that we are modelling healthy post-break up behaviours for our children by keeping their happiness a priority between us.  It has been a lot of hard work, compromise and forgiveness on behalf of both parties, but I am so glad that we did that because now our children get to have both their parents, and their dad’s significant other, side by side at the same events without tension or bad blood spoiling the day.  To all the parents like us out there who have been successful in becoming friends with their ex and keeping your family units as intact as you can whilst no longer being a couple, I applaud you for your hard work and dedication to your children’s happiness.

To all those parents out there, like Carol, who are unsuccessful in their attempts to create a cohesive parenting team for their children I implore you not to give up trying.  Keep encouraging your children to invite their other parent to events even if they fall on one of their days with you.  This is THEIR childhood, so continue to support your children in their relationship with their other parent because they will remember that you did that for them even if it was hard for you.

To all the Portly’s (male and female) of the world.  It’s time to stop blaming your Carol (male or female) for your marriage ending.  I know you were hurt when they left you – but they were hurting when they were with you.  Stop blaming your Carol for wanting that hurt to end and stop using your kids as a weapon.  This is THEIR childhood, they only get one, so why on earth would you want to ruin that for them?  Start prioritising your children, their happiness, their emotional security and their sense of family – because you are writing on the slate of their life and what you do to them now will stay with them for many, many years to come.  Forgive Carol for hurting you.  Ask her (or him) to forgive YOU for the hurt you have caused them.  Work hard to become an example of kindness, compassion and integrity for your children and put their needs first.  Give them their family back.  It might not look exactly the same as it once did, it might not feel much like a family to you.  But you and your Carol are their whole world and you are tearing it in two.  So give them their world back.  Come on Portly, you can do it!

 

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“What the world needs now is love sweet love…

…no not just for some but for everyone.”

On March 23, 1965 Jackie Deshannon recorded her rendition of Hal David’s haunting words set to Burt Bacharach’s beautiful music, What The World Needs Now Is Love.  It was released on April 15 1965 and reached number 7 on the US charts.

Over the 52 years since Jackie’s original, the words and sentiment of the song are still as true now as they were then.  Over 100 artists have either recorded or performed this song live, including Broadway for Orlando’s June 15 2016 recording that donated all proceeds to the victims of the June 12 2016 shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida – a hate and terror crime against LGBTIAQ+ citizens.  Of the 320 patrons of Pulse that night 49 people lost their lives and 58 others were wounded – I daresay the remaining patrons will bear the emotional scars of that night for the rest of their lives.

Hate.  Violence.  Fear.  Control.  All of these things go hand in hand, as was demonstrated on that tragic June night in Orlando in 2016.

Meanwhile, in Australia, we have been fortunate enough not to experience anything as heinous as this kind of attack on our fellow Australian’s – possibly because of our gun laws?  But this post isn’t about guns, terror or hate.  It is about love.  Just love.

On August 9 2017 the Australian Senate denied the restoration of the highly contentious and outrageously expensive same-sex marriage plebiscite, and as a result a $122 million non-compulsory postal vote has been proposed – the vote which will not require legislation and is essentially an expensive survey.

Marriage equality (ME), same-sex marriage, gay marriage, whatever you want to call it, has been a point of debate for many, many years and I want to break it down.  Traditionally, marriage is between a man and a woman.  But in 2017 is that really how marriage still looks, or should look?  The nuclear family has largely been replaced by extended families or single parent families.  Marriages are no longer predominantly held in churches and performed by religious figures.  Divorce, sex before marriage, children before marriage, lives without marriage are common.

19 May 1960 Australian Attorney-General Sir Garfield Barwick of the NSW Liberal Party introduced into the Australian House Of Representatives (HOR) the Marriage Bill 1960 which was intended to replace individual state and territory marriage laws with national marriage laws.  On this date Barwick noted that:

 … it will be observed that there is no attempt to define marriage in this bill. None of the marriage laws to which I have referred contains any such definition.

The bill was withdrawn at committee stage to allow for amendments to be made before submitting the amended bill on 21 March 1961 as Marriage Bill 1961.  The major parties (Australian Labor Party (ALP) and Liberal Party of Australia (LIB)) were given a conscious vote on the bill and it was passed on 22 March 1961 without divisions.  The bill was introduced to the Senate on 23 March 1961 and passed on 18 April 1961 without division, however Senator George Hannan a LIB from Victoria attempted to define marriage as ‘the voluntary union of one man with one woman for life to the exclusion of all others’ but was denied in a vote of 40-8.  The Marriage Bill 1961 was passed without division.  The politicians had done their jobs without need of a plebiscite or a vote or a postal vote.

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In 2001 the Netherlands became the first country to allow same-sex couples to marry.  Over the past 16 years many countries have followed suit including, but not limited to, Canada, Denmark, France, Mexico, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and our neighbours across the ditch New Zealand.  But in Australia the debate rages on!  In response to international ME laws the Marriage Amendment Bill 2004 was introduced to the HOR for the purpose of defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, to refuse to recognise same-sex marriages performed in other countries, and prevent same-sex couples from engaging in international adoption.  The bill passed the Senate 38-6 on 12 August 2004.  The politicians had done their jobs without a plebiscite, or a vote or a postal vote.  Yet in 2017 it is going to cost the Australian public millions of dollars to get an opinion on amending this amendment…

There are a lot of arguments for and against ME, but I haven’t heard a convincing argument against it yet.  Some of the notable objections I have read and heard I will address below:

“The bill is necessary because there is significant community concern about the possible erosion of the institution of marriage …”

~ Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock (LIB, New South Wales) in June 2004 in relation to the Marriage Amendment Bill 2004.

Why?  Why are there concerns over the POSSIBLE erosion of the institution of marriage?  How can recognising MORE marriages as valid diminish the institution in an environment where the rate of marriage in the heterosexual community is decreasing and the rate of divorce is increasing?  In an environment where 1 in 3 Australian Heterosexual Marriages will end in divorce, how can ME be a threat?  According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics the rate of marriage is decreasing whilst the divorce rate is increasing.

The number of marriages decreased in 2015 by 7,602 (-6.3%) and the crude marriage rate decreased from 5.2 in 2014 to 4.8 marriages per 1,000 estimated resident population in 2015.

Civil celebrants have overseen the majority of marriages since 1999 and the proportion of marriage ceremonies overseen by a civil celebrant increased again to 74.9 per cent of all marriages in 2015.

The number of divorces increased by 2,019 (4.3%) in 2015 and the crude divorce rate did not change from 2014 at 2.0 divorces per 1,000 estimated resident population in 2015.

The median duration from marriage to divorce in 2015 was 12.1 years, a slight increase from 12.0 years reported in 2014.

In the 20 years between 1995 and 2015 the crude marriage rate has decreased from 6.1 to 4.8, the crude divorce rate has also fallen from 2.8 to 2.0.  However, these figures do not account for the rate of separated couples who have not divorced.  Since 2010 the cost of applying for a divorce has increased from $432 to $865, which is a significant cost for a lot of Australian’s.  The Netherlands too have seen a decrease in marriages (6.5 in 1990 and 3.8 in 2015) and increase in divorce (1.9 in 1990 to 2.0 in 2015).  The statistics show that Australia has a higher crude marriage rate than the Netherlands but our divorce rate is the same.  For me, the argument that ME will somehow negatively impact on the sanctity of marriage is not supported by the facts.

An alarming trend I have been reading about is the insistence that ME will open the door to legalise adults marrying children.  Let’s get stuck into that one because the suggestion that a loving same-sex relationship is in anyway akin to paedophilia is beyond offensive!  Firstly, I will refer back to our little buddy the Marriage Act 1961, which stipulates that the marriageable age in Australia is 18 – also the age a person in this country is deemed to be an adult.  However, a person between the age of 16 – 18 years can marry a person over the age of 18 under exceptional and unusual circumstances with parental consent and a court order from a judge or magistrate.  As a legal adult in Australia is a person over the age of 18, it is a fact that for the past 56 years it has been LEGAL (though uncommon) for children to enter into a legally binding marriage in this country.  ME will have no impact on children entering into marriages other than to perhaps strengthen the laws against under age marriage.

Secondly, the dictionary.com defines a paedophile as a person who is sexually attracted to children; a homosexual as a person who is sexually attracted to people of their own sex; and a heterosexual as a person sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex.  From a psychiatric standpoint, the current American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM5) defines pedophilic disorder as sexual focus on children.  The Encyclopaedia Brittanica defines paedophilia as a psychosexual disorder in which an adult has sexual fantasies about or engages in sexual acts with a prepubescent child of the same or opposite sex – they reference both the DSM5 as well as the World Health Organisation ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders (1993).  By definition paedohphiles and homosexuals are completely different, as are paedophiles and heterosexuals.  ME is about consenting adults being given the same rights in marriage as the heterosexual citizens of this country.

As for the argument that same-sex couples can have a civil service and be recognised as a couple under the law, so why do they need to marry?  Well, a beautiful friend of mine said it best and I will quote him here because as far as I am concerned that is the argument made!

“Whenever I think about the argument that if we have the same thing but it’s called something different use this analogy: Imagine if when a woman finishes university, after doing all the same work as a man, we give her a certificate of completion instead of a Bachelor’s degree.”
~ Pat Walsh, Australia, 9th August 2017

 

Another argument is that the change will leave religious figures open to litigation as their faith won’t allow them to marry LGBTIQ+ couples.  Religious figures already have the right to refuse to perform marriage ceremonies for heterosexual couples, LGBTIQ+ couples wouldn’t be any different.  But that is a minority issue actually, because since 1999 the majority of marriages in Australia have been conducted by civil celebrants, with 74.9% in 2015.  The 2016 Census revealed that the majority, 30.1%, of Australian’s identified as No Religion, followed by 22.6% as Catholic, 13.3% as AnglicanNo religion is now the majority religious group in Australia.  Religion has no place in politics.  Religion has no place in government.  Politicians, or any Australian really, should not have the right to impose their religious views on others.img_4884-1

In 1902 Australia was the FIRST country IN THE WORLD to give women both the right to vote in federal elections but also the right to be elected to national parliament.  The following year in 1903 the suffragette movement was formed and led by Emmeline Parkhurst to fight for British women’s rights.  Yet here we are 115 years later (ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN YEARS LATER!), we have gone from being a world leader in civil rights to dragging the chain.  Come on Australia, it’s time to catch up!

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Mum is a Four Letter Word

10.08.17

“Mum GG hit me”

“Mum!  GG went like this (pokes tongue out) at me”1

“Owwwww Muuuuuum! BB punched me in the faaaaaaaaaaace!”

“Owwww MUUUUUUUUUM!!!! GG WENT LIKE THIS (POKED TONGUE OUT) AT ME AGAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIN!!!!!! MUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUM!!!!! MUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUM!!!!!!!!!! MUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

That was our trip to the supermarket this afternoon.  We had taken about 4 steps inside the doors when all this started at a volume that would rival that of a bunch of toddlers let loose with cricket bats on a drum kit.

This is, of course, a nightmare that most parents of young children have faced at one time or another – but us ASD parents face it more frequently, with greater intensity and for a longer duration than the average parent.  Hearing “MMMMMMUUUUUUUUUUMMMMMMMMMM” shrieked at anytime can be like finger nails on a blackboard (or Millenial equivalent), but practically being beaten with it in a public setting can make your blood boil!  Most of us have been there, right?  (I mean no offense to parents of non-verbal children, I daresay your little cherubs have an equivalent sound that makes you want to put your pj’s on and crawl back into bed!)  Of course we have!  It is part of the joys of parenthood that you wish for selective deafness to bless you during these most trying of times.  Which is why it amazes me that so many parents cast judgemental glances at other people’s children in public places – do you not remember being in their shoes once upon a time?  If you don’t, or never were then keep that shit to yourself – no one wants to hear that! 😉

Background: I have bought no less than 6 punnets of strawberries and 4 punnets of blueberries this week for the kids fruit break at school and for me to have with vanilla coyo for breakfast.  All 10 punnets of berries, all 2.1kg of berries, were stolen out of the fridge and eaten.  The last poor punnet of strawberries was involved in a strawberry throwing fight which is what alerted me to the larceny.  As a result of the theft GG and BB went to school without fruit break today.  We got home from our walk from school when I realised that I hadn’t been shopping during school hours and that this slip of the mind would result in me having to take them to Coles with me which is always a fairly hectic outing.

The intensity of their exchange was remarkable and drew several looks from our fellow shoppers.  But, as they are want to do these days, they ran out of some of their puff annoying each other and started using words and sentences to articulate what they were experiencing.

“I was only annoying you because you were being mean to me and ignoring me!” declared an indignant GG, now 7.

“You! You were being rude!  I was trying to talk to mum and you kept doing this (poked his tongue out at her) at me and distracting me!” replied an outraged BB, still 5 but “getting huge” as he likes to tell me in his size 3 clothing.

“I didn’t know you were talking to mum!” GG informed her little brother.

“Well I was and you still shouldn’t have done this (poked his tongue out at her) at me!  That was very rude of you GG!” he chastised his big sister.

Now granted, all of this occurred at an improper volume.  The looks of adults and children alike were considerable.  But I couldn’t tell you what their looks said about their reaction to my children’s exchange because I was paying very little attention to the strangers in the shop.  Instead, I was rapidly losing steam from the pressure that had been building in my head.  Watching these two amazing little people discussing their thoughts, feelings and perspectives with each other whilst still in such a state of temper was one of the most impressive things I have had the priviledge of witnessing.  But it wasn’t until we were back at home that I was able to reflect on the incident and really give them their dues.

Whilst the volume and pitch of the initial disagreement was extremely objectionable in that environment, which is why in my exasperation I threw in “Oh BB! If she is annoying you then you can CHOOSE not to look at her!  You can’t control GG’s behaviour but you CAN control yours, you know!”.  In total that inital exchange only lasted a few minutes before they turned to each other of their own volition to resolve the situation with a frank and articulate exchange.  The conflict resolution skills that these little people demonstrated would put many adults to shame.

I think the most impressive part about it was that they both listened to each other, concisely shared their views and jointly reached a decision that they were both in the wrong!  GG for not noticing that BB was talking to me before trying to speak with him and also for teasing him with poking her tongue at him.  BB for punching GG in the face and for not acknowledging her attempts to engage him in conversation.  They also agreed that they were both in the wrong for hitting each other because hitting is just not ok.  They both apologised to each other and agreed that they were once again best friends, the altercation forgiven and forgotten before turning to me in unison to pester me about having more to eat – despite the fact that the crumbs from their afternoon snack were still present on their shirts and faces.

So, it turns out that sight is fluid!

09.08.17

Hi there!  How are you all doing?  I hope this finds you feeling accomplished and happy.

There has been a LOT of change in my life over the past few years.  A lot of change.  In fact, I feel like I am standing on shifting ground because my life is in a constantly altering state.  In some ways it is pretty cool, in other ways I just want to press pause and let the world settle around me for a while.  But that is not to be and it is not for me to reason why…

I caught up with a good friend from school recently and it was wonderful!  I don’t know why we lost touch or even remember the last time we spoke, which made me a little sad because I would have liked the opportunity to reflect on our last conversation during our reunion.  We talked about so many things across a range of topics and it was easy and comfortable just like it had always been, but it was also new and exciting seeing how much they had changed and starting to learn who they are now versus who they are in my memory.  This meeting brought me joy and excitement for more happy times spent together in the future.

One of the topics we touched on was how once your perception of someone changes it can be impossible to look at them in the same way again, especially if they have hurt us.  Pain can strengthen a relationship, or it can decimate it.  If a person abandons us during a period of need, that is an emotional wound that can threaten a relationship, be it romantic or platonic, as it can teach us that the other person is not someone we can rely on which then impacts trust – and what is any kind of relationship without trust?

If a person hurts us physically it can destroy a relationship as it teaches us to fear that person, and also obliterates the trust we have in them – for how do you trust someone you fear?  How do you look at them without that hurt and fear colouring your view?

If a relationship crosses a line (be it romantic, sexual, criminal, whatever) how do you proceed?  Do you redefine the line?  Do you retreat until you are well back behind the line, so far that you can’t even see the line on the horizon, to a place where you can pretend it doesn’t exist or never happened?  Do you cross the line, regret it and then find yourself searching to go back only to find that the line no longer exists and refuses to be redrawn?  Do you stand still and consider your surroundings and what this side of the line looks like and its potential?  Do you run across the line and keep running until it is a distant memory?  Do you consider the line, along with all the possibilities that crossing it could hold, and optimistically ease your toes slowly over the line with an open mind and heart?  What do you find?  What do you see?  It all depends on your perspective.

I have been thinking a great deal about that and reflecting on the people in my life whom that notion applies to.  So far in my life there have been Five Great Meetings and Crossings.  I don’t have any other way to describe them.  They are meeting people who have changed my life just by entering it.  I give you, in no particular order, the unexpected Five:

One I have never seen again, but to them I owe my future.  Before meeting them I was numb.  A bone deep deadness that I didn’t even see until they shone a light on it and just as quickly took the light away.  But what I had seen in myself was something I couldn’t ‘unsee’.  One pushed me so far across the line that I couldn’t even find it again.  Because of this I was able to feel again.  I was able to see what had been hiding in the shadows.  I was able to start the wheels of change moving in my life and to this day it is still charging forward, and I will always be grateful to One for helping to bring me back to life.

Two I would be happy never to see again.  There are people in our lives who enter as one thing but morph and take so many different forms that by the time they are through, you are both so exhausted by it all and the way you see them has been changed so painfully and irrevocably, that to never have to see them again would be a gift to you both.  So changed am I by the lines I saw blown apart, the pain and the chaos that I barely remember how I saw Two to be begin with as even my memory is tainted.  But the lessons remain and for those I am grateful for they have made me who I am today.  So for that, I thank you Two.

Three.  Ohhhhhh Threeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!  I NEVER want to know what life would be like without my precious Three!  I had no idea that meeting Three would be one of the highlights of my life and would bring me such joy and happiness that I NEVER want to face a day in this world without my beautiful Three in it somewhere.  For the love, support and laughter: You will always have my heart ❤

Four.  So unexpected were you Four!  Even after such a short acquaintance I couldn’t believe how much I loved you.  The way we clicked was one of the best surprises I have ever had.  You have enriched my life so much and I am so blessed to have you!  My lovely Four, I look forward to many more years giggling and talking the hours away together.

Five.  From the moment we met you were one of the most important people in my life.  Then you were gone.  Bereft.  Coming and going.  Always.  Emotional whiplash.  The joy of having you back swiftly followed by the pain of losing you all over again.  So many years, so much a part of who I am, always missing.  Sewn into the fabric of my being, and absent.  Gone.  Without any explanation.  Gone.  Without knowing whether you will be back.  Gone without knowing why.  Gone when I needed you most.  Back when you need me.  Gone when you don’t.  A ghost haunting and hurtful.  In many ways Five, you have been a blessing and a curse.  You saved my life and for that I will never be able to thank you enough.  Even if it is silently, from afar.

Five Great Meetings.  Four big loves.  Three life changers.  Two immeasurable blessings.  One changed, for good, by them all.

Soooo… it’s been a while.

Hi there!  How are you all?  Well!  It has been a while since my last post and many changes have taken place!  I will try to remember them all.

Firstly, I am winning my battle with depression!  I am on a dosage now that is working well for me and I feel in control of my life (that happy illusion that we subsribe to that we actually have any control over it at all!).  I feel like things are finally turning around and I am steering my lovely little family into calmer waters.

We have moved!  We have moved an hour away from our old home which has been very bittersweet.  Firstly, I didn’t want to leave.  Secondly, I didn’t want to stay.  Therein lay the conundrum!  I LOVED the kid’s school, the friends we all had made and the school community.  I love my city.  I enjoyed living amongst so much variety as well as the general pulse of the city in general.  BUT I had no support and was feeling the crushing weight of responsibility suffocating me as I felt myself failing at even the most basic of tasks.  So many people kept telling me what I great job I was doing and to cut myself some slack.  But I was so paralysed by stress and unhappiness with my situation that I couldn’t listen – when you find yourself breaking the budget to buy tuckshop every day because you can’t bring yourself to get out of bed in the morning to make lunches that won’t be eaten, you know that something has to change!

One day in March my two little terrors broke into the medicine cabinet and stole a near full bottle of panadol.  Other kids, this wouldn’t have been a big issue.  But with the female incarnation of Merlin residing in my home it was a massive problem!  The little magician separated the white part of the childproof lid from the clear part making it simple to open the bottle and share it with her brother.  I got out of bed, found the empty bottle and promptly started our usual “off to the hospital” ritual, we had only been there a week before to rule out a broken bone.  We were swiftly moved to a room in the Children’s Emergency Department for monitoring and a 4 hour weight to check bloods and kidney function amongst queries of “how did they get the lid off?” and exclamations of “I have never hear of that being done before!”.  I must have looked a bit of a state despite my calm and quiet demeanor as I was asked a few times if I was ok and someone took it upon themselves to send a social worker to visit us.  She spent a good hour plus with me as I talked and answered all her questions.  She suggested to me that I move closer to my parents as they are my main support – something that both my children’s psychologists and occupational therapists had been suggesting to me also but I had so far resisted.  The social worker was exhausted after spending time with us and actually said “I am exhausted after an hour in here, no wonder you feel like you are falling apart after years of doing this on your own”.

So, I finally took everyone’s advice and started looking for a place to live.  After 3 months of looking, we moved into a lovely unit 2 weeks ago just before school holidays started.  This will be the third week off school for my guys and they are starting to drive me a little batty – but only a little, which is a massive improvement!  I am almost completely unpacked and we all agree that we love our new home and are much happier here already.  We have had dinner with my parents several times and they have taken the kids overnight once too!  It was definitely a great move for us and I am so glad that we have done it.

My little man started Prep this year and it has been just wonderful for him.  He loves the structure of school life and learning new things every day.  He was very sad to leave his teachers and they were sad to lose such a “delightful child” who “brings joy” to their day.  Whilst he was excellent at school, he would fairly lose the plot at home!  Thanks to Kmart I got him a $5 inflatable punching bag and whatever negative energy he needed to get out he would expend on the punching bag – he now wants to start boxing! lol.  My little man is very interested in excercise and going to the gym.  We would go to the free gym in the park near our old home and this is one of the things he misses the most about our new place, so I have promised to look for a new outdoor gym for us to frequent 😀  He tried Tai Kwan Do earlier in the year but decided not to pursue it further as he spent a whole lesson there and didn’t get to kick or hit anyone! lol So he has decided he would rather do swimming lessons instead.  Now that we live closer to the beach I think we might consider getting him into Nippers next year 😀

My little lady started grade 1 this year and it has been eventful!  She had a day where she tried to run away from school (my greatest fear!), but after the initial hurdles she settled into the rigidity of her school day nicely.  Unfortunately though, not long before our move, one of her friends lost his mother in an accident.  This made an already emotional time even more intense as my poor baby girl became terrified of losing me.  Thankfully we overcame that hurdle and the result is that my darling girl seems to appreciate me more, which is a truly beautiful gift to have come out of such a tragedy.  For the past 2 days my gorgeous girl has made me breakfast in bed just to show me how much she loves me and appreciates everything I do for them both ❤  Although, yesterday she also made me morning tea which consisted of wilted celery (that had frozen in the fridge) with peanut butter to dip and a rice cake sandwich of mayonnaise and grapes.  I am ashamed to say I couldn’t eat it.  I felt bad for my baby girl because she was so proud of herself!  So I left it on my bedside table and thoughtfully disposed of it after she had gone to bed last night so as not to hurt her feelings or discourage her from such acts in the future.

We were lucky enough to go on a mini holiday with my parents a couple of months ago and had the very great pleasure of catching up with a bunch of family that I haven’t spent much time with in years!  So spending a long weekend with them was a blessing that I hope to repeat later in the year!  Speaking of which, I need to organise that! 😀  Also on the subject of holidays, one of my best friends has insisted I research cruises for us!  She is fed up with hearing about my cruise last year and is determined that we need to go off and have a lovely cruising adventure together – I cannot wait!!!  I am so thankful for this lovely lady, I don’t know how I would have made it through the last year without her ❤

On a sad note though, I think I may have lost my best friend in the world.  Over the past 12 months things have been excessively difficult for both of us and I have changed so much that I am not sure that our friendship will survive what we are both throwing at it.  After almost 20 years it is very sad for this relationship that I have always held so dear feel like it is turning to water, slipping through my fingers and disappearing, and no amount of effort on my part seems to be able to stop it.  The pain that I feel over this slow, painful death has been excruciatingly difficult to bear and I feel like I won’t ever recover from it.  Getting up and living my life every day whilst feeling like that day is taking me one step closer to a life without my bestie in it is the kind of torture that I wouldn’t wish on anyone and it makes achieving happiness very difficult indeed.

But that is what I am striving for.  Happiness.  Simple.  Complicated.  Difficult.  But I am making progress.  3 times in the last 2 weeks I have felt truly happy.  2 mornings I got up, had a lovely hot shower and put my flannel pj’s on to go and make breakfast and I thought “I love me life”.  Now if that isn’t happiness then I don’t know what is!

xoxo

Depression is an Evil Bastard

I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!!!!!  Well after my last post I think a break was definitely a good thing!  That was the start of a head first plunge into a significant depressive episode.  I had been trying to treat the depression naturally for many years and until last year I was quite successful at it.  Last year though after going away on my wonderful holiday, I returned to my excessively demanding normality and I found myself no longer capable of handling the reality of my daily life, I had forgotten how stressful and exacting my role in the world was and I found myself unable to meet those challenges.  I used to use exercise as my greatest depression repellent, but I got to the point where I could barely manage a 10 minute walk (‘walk’ is generous, ‘drag’ is a more appropriate term) before returning to my car utterly exhausted.  I struggled along for a good 6 weeks before suicidal ideation kicked in and I tearfully agreed to start anti-depressants and see a psychiatrist, counsellor and psychologist.  The psychiatrist has been awesome and I am glad I have been under specialised care as I needed to change my medication towards the end of September and my GP cut my medication down very quickly due to potentially severe side affects that started to emerge.  Thankfully my Psychiatrist was able to help me step down my very high dosage in a kinder way.  All this coincided with the school holidays so the kids and I escaped to my parents home so I could get some TLC.  Which as it turned out was a very, very good idea.

 

I woke one morning experiencing extreme symptoms and battling panic attacks.  I NEEDED to get out of the house so I took my babies to the beach which was wonderful, relaxing and enjoyable.  I sat on the beach listening to an audiobook and watching my beloved children play joyously in the sunshine and play chicken with the waves. But on the way home whilst driving up the range in an 80km/h zone I was hit by a massive panic attack.  It kept pulling darkness over my eyes that I had to fight to keep at bay so I could get my babies back to safety as there was nowhere for me to pull over.  I pulled up at my parents home, beeped the horn in distress so my mum would come out and look after my terrified children and practically fell out of the car in my attempt to get myself to a small quiet place where I could call my psychiatrist.  I just wanted to die.  I wanted to drive my car over a cliff so I wouldn’t be alive anymore.  Life was just too damn hard that I didn’t want to live it any longer.  I was so tired and fed up that I just didn’t want to do it any more.  I wanted to go to sleep and never wake up – that seemed to me like the ideal state.  Thinking it and saying it out loud are two completely different things though.  Saying it out loud to my Psychiatrist made it even more real and even more scary, because if I could say it then I was one step closer to following through on it.  I was very scared and felt very, very unsafe.

 

My Psychiatrist knew me well enough by then to know that I was in very severe distress and was a danger to myself, and thus advised me to admit myself to hospital for psychiatric monitoring.  She organised a letter to be sent to the local hospital outlining my severe major depression, the transitioning of medications, my PTSD, anxiety, panic attacks, special needs children and my suicidal ideation.  At the hospital I was a crying, shaking mess until they took me to a small room and started talking to me.   I finally felt safe.  I finally felt like I was going to be ok and that there were people there who would make sure that I was going to be ok.  They talked about the letter from my psychiatrist and after keeping me there for a few hours told me that they were going to send me home because I hadn’t actually attempted suicide.  As soon as the words were out of their mouth my mind started planning places to drive where I would be able to fatally wound myself.  They offered me drugs which I refused because in my mind it wouldn’t be responsible of me to take Valium and then get behind the wheel, because I might hurt someone else and I only really wanted to take myself out.

 

I was released without any real support other than a 1800 number that I threw in the bin on the way out – I wouldn’t need that because I had a plan now.  I called my mum to come pick me up – I waited and planned.  In a stroke of luck both my parents were really ill – I know this sounds awful of me!  But I am a selfless, caring person and having people to look after was just the diversion I needed to distract myself from my suicidal planning and in a moment of clarity I instructed my mother to take all the car keys and hide them in their room somewhere as my weapon of choice against myself was my car.  The mind is a strange thing.  With all the sharp objects, cliffs, mountains and potentially lethal substances on or within walking distance of my parents rural property, the only danger to me was my car.  So with the keys hidden, my body recovering from the panic attacks and downright awful day, I spent one of the worst nights of my existence trying to stop my brain from planning my demise through vehicular suicide.  It was a really long night.  But in the morning both my parents and my kids were really unwell and needed to be cared for.  I spent most of the day in the kitchen keeping my mind and body busy making nourishing food and drinks for my family members.  At the end of that day I was so exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically that I finally slept.

 

Over the ensuing weeks I started my new meds and completely transitioned off the old ones.  I felt much better on the new tabs but over the following months the dosage needed to be increased as I would plateau and then start to go down hill again.  The dosage I am on now seems to be working, however last week I had a day where my baby boy attacked me no less than 3 times during a day of rolling meltdowns.  It set off my PTSD, anxiety, hypersensitivity and depression in a big way.  I wanted to go to sleep and never wake up again but I didn’t reach a point of contemplating suicide, so that was a win.  I feared though that I may need to increase my medication again, but within a few days I was doing much better and even had a little increase in energy.  That is a win.  A very significant win.

 

Depression is a severely debilitating condition that isn’t just feeling sad – that is feeling ‘depressed’ which is vastly different from clinical ‘Depression’.  When a sufferer is in the throes of a depressive episode, simply getting out of bed is an achievement.  Anything beyond that is a significant accomplishment that should be recognised and praised.  An analogy that is often used to describe depression is living in darkness.  My best friend and I had a discussion last week on my first “dark day” about what it is like.  I likened it to living in darkness and not being able to find a switch to turn on a light.  There may be hands there wanting to help but you can’t see them, and trying to find them is an unfair struggle unless you know where to look – but depression makes you think that you are all alone, so looking for the hands in the dark seems to be a pointless endeavour.  I am lucky enough to know, within the depths of my soul, that my best friend will always be there, no matter what and that makes me the luckiest girl in the world.  We have been there for each other through thick and thin and I know that no matter what happens to me, I just need to reach out and I WILL find those wonderful hands and that beautiful heart that always shows me where to find the absolute best of myself.  I am also blessed to have another amazing best friend who knows that I sometimes need someone to walk into the darkness, find me and bring me back into the light – for her I will be eternally grateful and I am so happy to know that whatever challenges life throws at me she will be there to support me and laugh with (and sometimes at) me.  Unfortunately these two fabulous people that I love ridiculously, live nowhere near me!  But I am lucky enough to have some good friends who DO live close by and who enjoy my company as much as I enjoy theirs – these are the people that make my every day life more enjoyable and I hope that they say the same about me.  Along with my wonderful family, these are the people I look for when things go dark.  They bring light to my world when I need it the most and it is a privilege to know and love them all.

 

Depression is a bastard of a thing to live with for a lot of reasons, but something that a lot of people don’t know about Depression is that it takes the things that you enjoy most and prevents you from doing them.  ‘Crazy!’ I hear you cry!  Well it is true and just awful!  For me, the things taken from me were exercise, writing and reading.  Thankfully I am now able to write again (joy of joys!), I am super keen to get back into exercise (happy dance!) tomorrow, but my beloved reading is still evading me.  Even webpages I wish to read for research purposes are just not available to me.  It is more than a mental block, I physically can’t bring myself to open the pages!  It is ludicrous and so very frustrating!  I am a very logical person so my own inability to overcome this seemingly self imposed obstacle is irritating beyond measure!  But thankfully I am making progress and that MUST be acknowledged and appreciated.

xoxo

find-the-people-in-your-life-who-bring-light-into-the-darkness

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