I just thought it was me. Like I was just a shit person. Like there was some piece of me missing that meant I couldn’t… do it. Like I’d better not.
And I think even at the time people tried to say it wasn’t my fault and that it was just a thing that happens sometimes to some people and it’s hormones and whatever.
But I never really… believed them?
I had this friend once. Kind of a friend. We’d both gone through it. But she still had her kid. She’d stuck it out and worked through it and been okay eventually. Even after her husband left her with a baby and she didn’t even have the support of her family or anything. She said medication helped her a lot.
They said it wasn’t my fault. Now… well I guess they were right. But if it wasn’t my fault that I had it in the first place. If it wasn’t my fault that I didn’t want to be near him and I didn’t want to touch him, and I spent a lot of time wishing I was dead because I felt so bad about wishing he was dead… well then it’s my fault that I left. That I didn’t let people help fix me. That I didn’t want to take the medication. I just wanted to finish school and play the cello and get out of there.
If one of them isn’t my fault then the other is. You know? I have to pick one.
I’d been a part of SelfWork for two years when I met Sarah. Sarah was twenty-seven – the same age as me – so I was kind of excited to get to know her. A fellow Millennial among a sea of Gen-X and Boomers. And then there was Craig who was a few years older so technically Gen-X but sort of on either side of that cusp, you know?
Sorry. That’s irrelevant. Sometimes I get sidetracked by details that don’t actually matter.
Sarah and I worked together a few times, every time I went to the Sydney Retreats. I spent a lot of time at the Sydney Centre because there was nobody to run regular Workshops in Brisbane and David only came up from Melbourne every so often.
We used to visit op-shops and find the weirdest and ugliest shit we could find and then talk to each other like we were seriously considering buying it.
I’d pick up a hideously patterned serving dish with a chip on the side or a wonky stool or an old book of knitting patterns and say “Sarah! I can’t believe someone actually gave this away!”
And she’d say “Holy shit! It must be worth thousands! If you don’t buy it I will!”
And I’d say, “No way. I will simply DIE if I don’t take this home with me!”
And we’d laugh until we cried.
Then she’d look through the kids clothes for something for Isis which is what we were actually there for. Kids grow quickly.
But then it got weird when I play-acted as her birth mother. When she screamed at me about how it felt to not know her or anything about her or why she’d given Sarah up.
And then we ended up having a long discussion about my issues because I wasn’t supposed to react that way. It was supposed to be about Sarah and I’d made it all about myself and then – worse – tried to run away from it when I didn’t want to have a group discussion about it.
That was a pattern of mine. To over-react.. I needed to work on that. To act with consideration rather than react out of fear. To understand that those impulses don’t always serve me and that with further work on myself I could learn to overcome them.
I was always trying to control everything. To try and make things happen the way I wanted instead of being spontaneous. I needed to be more spontaneous. I should get out of my comfort zone.
I didn’t know I had a comfort zone. I don’t think I’ve ever felt comfortable.
No, I don’t think you get what I am saying at all. I know I deserve to have those things. And I want them. I don’t think I deserve to live in filth or chaos. At all. I don’t think anyone deserves a sink full of maggots. Sometimes people do shitty things and they should be stopped from doing more shitty things, obviously. But even if I were a bad person… and I don’t think I am, like whatever?… a sink full of maggots doesn’t seem like an appropriate punishment or likely to achieve anything?
People keep telling me that I deserve to have a living space which doesn’t suck. That I deserve to have clothes that aren’t falling apart. They seem to think that wanting to do it is what’s missing between “wanting it to be done” and “doing it”.
But that’s not the piece that’s missing. I want it to be done. I do want to do it. I just don’t… do it. It’s like I can’t do it. But obviously I can. I just… don’t.
It’s not that I don’t do things because I feel bad. I feel bad because I don’t do things.
I think Sarah and I both liked Craig. And I didn’t realise she liked him too when I fucked him. I don’t know. I know they fucked as well but Craig told me it was never anything serious with her. I didn’t know it was anything with her and I do wish I’d known that ahead of time. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. I guess that’s a pattern. Of hurting people. I abandoned my kid the way her mum had abandoned her and I fucked a guy she liked and our friendship was torpedoed before it even left the ground.
David told me Sarah had an issue thinking everything and everyone was racist. Reading into things that weren’t there. That she had to let go of that.
It didn’t really seem fair to me. The rest of us were white. A bunch of things she talked about didn’t seem racist to me. But… I never really think about race or racism at all. I’m not thinking about it so I don’t notice it. I just ignore it. But she did think about it. And she noticed it, and she couldn’t ignore it because it affected her all of the time.
Dan used to roll his eyes if I said anything about feminism. Like I was seeing sexism everywhere just because I was a woman and if I were more ‘objective’ then I’d realise that… not all men or whatever. And that was obviously crap. Sure not all men. But some of them and I can’t tell in advance which ones.
So isn’t it the same if a bunch of white people tell the one Asian lady that she’s seeing racism everywhere where it doesn’t exist and she should shut up and let the white people explain it to her?
David suggested that we form a circle around her and shout racist slurs at her so she could work through her issue and let go of it. She walked out and never came back. Which was a relief. I really hadn’t wanted to do that.
But I also hadn’t wanted to speak up and interrupt Sarah’s process. To make it all about myself again. Would that have been reacting out of fear? Was that the impulse I was supposed to be overcoming?
And if this was the control I was supposed to be gaining, why didn’t I feel like I was the one who was in control?
I think she’d thought I’d be on her team, you know? Even after all the awkwardness between us. I thought about texting her and telling her I thought she’d done the right thing by leaving. But I was too ashamed because I hadn’t said it at the time.
I knew those things should be said. I wanted someone to say it. I even wanted to be the person who said them.
But I didn’t.
I guess I was just… acting out for attention. You know. Because all of the attention was on him and not me?
But I don’t know. I always wanted to hide it. Like I’d… wear long sleeves so nobody could see. I’d lie about the friends I had at school and make up stories of things they’d said and done so that mum wouldn’t worry about my social life the way she worried about his.
So I don’t know what kind of attention I actually got.
David pointed out that it was a pattern for me. To make things about myself. Like when I first joined SelfWork I’d had blue hair and always been trying to draw attention to myself. And then to run away and abandon people. Not to be there when it gets hard. Not to follow through. And I had a lot to work on. So I’d need a lot more work before I could really be a therapist and help other people. I’d really have to dig deeper. And not abandon my process and my calling the way I’d kept abandoning people. I had to break that pattern.
I’d tried really hard to let go of the attention seeking. To stop attracting negative energy and making myself into a victim. I’d let my hair grow out to a natural colour like Owen suggested. Stopped shaving bits of it off when I got annoyed by the way it tickled my neck and face. To dress more like other people dressed. To act more like other people acted.
Owen said I didn’t need that attention anymore. That I was proving that I loved myself completely without relying on the attention of others. That this showed I was connecting to my inner power and being authentic to my true self.
And I nodded and I smiled the way I thought I was supposed to and I didn’t admit that I didn’t feel like I had any more of a solid idea of myself, than I did before.
My mum had this friend once. Sam. She spent a lot of time trying to get me to like her. Trying to bond with me or something. She said, “you’re so lucky not to have problems like Alan Sebastian does.”
It’s funny. She had really short hair and she never wore makeup and she always wore pants. And I think I was like, twelve? And all the girls at school were suddenly into wearing makeup and talking about boys and shaving their legs and I wanted to learn that stuff too but I didn’t really know how. And Mum and I weren’t getting along at all and here was this woman trying to get past that wall and get to know me… and she wasn’t the kind of woman I wanted to be. So I just didn’t let her. I wanted to master the girly-girl stuff that the other girls were doing…
And she was trying to be nice you know. But it’s like… none of my problems ever mattered? Because they weren’t as bad as his. Like obviously everything was fine because I wasn’t the one screaming and bashing my head against the wall.
Heh. It’s kind of weird to think about Sam and my feelings toward her at the time. Like I really, like, disapproved of her lack of… femininity I guess. It didn’t seem right to me that she “dressed like a man” or whatever. And I spent so much time thinking “well I’m never going to be like that. I’m never going to get a tattoo. I’m never going to dress like that. I’m going to learn and do it properly.”
And now look at me. Tattoos. Short blue hair. I never got used to the way makeup felt on my face so I never stuck with it. I haven’t worn a dress in years.
Owen said I needed to let go of my fear of femininity. That femininity was a sacred strength that I needed to get in touch with to be true to myself.
That the pockets thing wasn’t a real objection. That if it were I could simply buy dresses with pockets. That this issue must be something deeper and possibly even one of my core issues that I needed to let go of.
Becoming a Navigator was taking a lot longer than I’d thought it would. I felt intimidated by the idea of running the Brisbane centre but Owen told me I could handle it and that I was only so upset by David’s comments about my capabilities because of my issues with authority which stemmed from growing up without a solid father figure.
Yeah I just put up with it. We all put up with things we don’t like. And maybe we shouldn’t. It’s like… nobody likes the feelings of labels on their clothes, do they? We just put up with it. I do unpick them now. Because I know how and I know you can do that. You don’t have to put up with it. I think people just don’t think about it but once I notice it I can’t stop noticing it. But if I had to, you know, I could deal with that the way anyone else can.
Sometimes I think I should be better at putting up with things like that. To get better at it.
But sometimes I think… I should fix the things I can fix so that I can put more effort into putting up with the things I can’t.
I sort of toggle between those two I guess.
A guy I was fucking once gave me a mug which said, Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. And I think it’s supposed to be helpful in some way. But it just made me feel like I’m not really real. Life is about creating yourself but I’m all out of inspiration.
They told me that SelfWork would help me rebuild my life. To rebuild myself. But I still don’t really know where to start. And I definitely don’t know what I want to end up with.
In The Truman Show Jim Carrey’s character tears pieces of faces out of magazines to construct a picture of a girl he’s been looking for since high school. I feel like that. Like I’m trying to construct myself out of pieces of other people.
And I wonder
what would happen
if I just stopped