Tamika Wood’s Birthday Party

& Other Stories by Le Kendall

Content Notes are available for Untitled Cello Piece.

That’s a hard question to answer.

I guess I’m supposed to get a proper job at some point.

I mean I don’t hate teaching. But it’s mostly kids you know. And it’s not that I hate kids. I kind of hate kids. But it’s not their fault. But they’re not the worst part. I don’t blame the kids for being kids. But fuck. The parents. Christ. I fucking hate dealing with parents. Kids can’t help being sticky little shits. They’re kids. It’s what they’re for. But parents should… I don’t know. Not be such fucking assholes. You know?

Like some of my students tell me that their parents always tell them it’s not the right time for practice. Mum has a headache or they’re busy or whatever. And then it’s somehow my fault when the kid isn’t making any progress.

I don’t think my Mum ever really cared one way or the other how we did? She never really commented.


There were suddenly several more Guides who were doing the Navigator course with me. David was eager to find someone to re-open the Sydney Centre, which had closed, as well as wanting to open up something in Perth… which had been talked about for years but never actually happened.

Our supervising Navigator was a man named Fergus who ran the Melbourne Centre. He’d actually joined SelfWork after I had but due to his previous experience as a counsellor had progressed much more quickly.

We no longer had any newcomers. Everyone who was there had been there basically as long as I had… and I should have been recruiting more. David kept pointing out how many more people June had brought in during her time as Guide and how many of them had left when I took over the Group. Some of that was because of June’s negative energy and sabotage, but I still should have been more dedicated to sharing my story and how much SelfWork had helped me.

But with the time I was putting in studying Jung, Reich and Lowen at night and early morning phone calls with David or Owen for “accountability” I was constantly exhausted. Owen pointed out that I was afraid of change and was addicted to control so he’d call or message me randomly to tell me to do something different. I had to take a different route home every day instead of always walking exactly the same way. I missed being in a band and David kept pressuring me to give up the private music lessons I was giving because it was a sign that I wasn’t committed to my personal growth. I was too tired to put enough time – or money – into recruitment, which meant I didn’t have any clients to charge for therapy sessions which I wouldn’t have made much money off of anyway because I would have had to pay Fergus to supervise… but at least I would have had something. As it was I was swapping sessions with the other Guides because they needed to meet their therapy session quotas too – both as therapist and client. We didn’t charge each other but we still had to pay Fergus.


And it’s kind of fucked because she didn’t care about the part of me that I cared about. But she did seem to care about everything else.

Like I walked wrong. I stood wrong. I didn’t care enough. Apart from when I cared too much.

I was always making a big deal. Crying crocodile tears. Manipulating everyone to get my own way.

So much of my childhood it was like I wasn’t allowed to have feelings? Or I was having the wrong ones. And it’s like… I don’t know how to have my own feelings now. I don’t know how to tell if I’m just trying to get my own way or get people to do what I want. I don’t know if I’m putting on an act.

I’m always feeling too much or too little. I’m overwhelmed. I’m underwhelmed. Can you ever just be whelmed? I’m never just whelmed.


I kept at it.

I had so many deeper issues coming to light. But I really wanted to make it work. So I did a lot of individual sessions with Elaine, before she abdicated, and David. And even Owen one time when he came to Australia. That was a big deal to be singled out like that.

He was really into hugging and rubbing my arm and putting his arm around my shoulders. And as much as I had tried to let myself be loved by others it didn’t always feel good to be touched so much. So I was relieved when he left and I tried not to show it.

Because SelfWork was worth it. Even if Owen made me uncomfortable in person in a way he hadn’t over video and on the phone.

I wanted to have a purpose. To have a calling. So I needed to keep up the work.

Because even if it wasn’t for my self-absorption and addiction to being a victim and self-sabotage and negative energy and being controlling and attention seeking and lack of discipline and problems with commitment… Well I’d have to continue the therapy anyway if I wanted to be a Navigator so it was good I had stuff to work through. You always have to keep working on yourself. You can’t pretend that you’ve got nothing else to work on or you won’t be a good therapist. Countertransference or whatever. With great power comes great responsibility.

And I had a lot of shit to work through. I didn’t want to be self-absorbed. I tried to dress more grown up. It showed how much my growth had been arrested when I dressed like a kid. I had to let go of that and join the real world. So I kept going. Kept pushing. Just keep swimming.


There does seem to be a kind of… cycle? Not a cycle. But like I do really well for a while and then things get hard again. I don’t need as much sleep. I feel energised and inspired all of the time… for like a few months. And then I’m drained and tired and I can’t do anything and I just sort of neglect everything.

No. I never feel like I’m… special or that kind of elation. Just… good.

It just never really lasts.


I was worse off financially than I ever had been. I’d been so fucking irresponsible with money when I’d left home and I’d just let the money mum had given me disappear. But then, I knew that if I still had that money I wouldn’t have had an excuse to keep giving music lessons which was my one refuge from the relentlessness of SelfWork. That was another issue of mine. If I was really as dedicated to growth as I said I was, it wouldn’t have felt like such hard work.

David kept reminding me I wasn’t fully committed and was always half-way to leaving. The fact that I was worried about money was a sign of my negative thinking and that if I was truly committed to joyful abundance it wouldn’t have been so much of a problem. That I was trying to control the rest of the world instead of controlling myself. I was being a victim and abdicating my own responsibility to myself.

Which didn’t always feel fair because it was David that I had to pay for supervising my Navigator sessions now that Fergus had abdicated. But that was me playing the victim again.

Owen had used to explain why David said the things he said to me and make me feel better about it. But after he went back to the USA he was usually too busy to talk to me as much. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.

I wasn’t bringing enough new people in and I knew everyone who’d stuck around pretty well. And I couldn’t help but notice that the same four or five people were just… working through the same issues over and over again.

Wasn’t the whole point that we’d be free of those traumas forever? Wasn’t I supposed to move on and let go of it all?

So why did I have to keep beating the same block of foam with the same baseball bat and screaming the same words over and over again.

And why didn’t it ever feel as good as the first time?


The way I’d like things to be… ugh. I guess…

Well… I’d like to be able to get out of bed in the morning and not dread every moment of my existence.

I’d like to eat better. To not throw out so many vegetables because I couldn’t be bothered to cook.

I’d like to… be better at housework I guess? To not always feel like I’m the filthiest housemate.

I don’t think it’s that I don’t feel like I deserve those things. I am sure I do.

I don’t feel like I hate myself. But I guess I do?


I don’t usually answer calls from ex-boyfriends. They’re usually drunk or have just broken up with someone and say they miss me or shit like that.

But I answered the call from Smithy. I guess deep down I knew he wasn’t the type to drunk dial me. Also it was four in the afternoon. It had been years since we’d broken up and hearing his voice felt like something from a past life.

He told me that Dan had ended his own life.

I hadn’t heard from Bethany in a while. I had been… fully consumed by SelfWork and hadn’t been able to respond to any of her emails at length. I did always try to reply. But her emails to me had become shorter and more infrequent over time.

Which didn’t seem significant at the time. Because that’s just how things go, you know? Everyone eventually gets sick of my bullshit.

So I realised it had been a while since I had heard from her and I sent her an email to ask her if she was okay and if she wanted to talk.

I got a bounce message. Her email address no longer existed.

I don’t use Facebook very often but I logged in for the first time in ages and her profile had been deleted too.

Her phone number didn’t connect.

I eventually found an old LinkedIn page of hers which still listed a job I knew she’d left even before I moved away from Sydney. I sent her a message anyway. I never heard back.


Yeah I think it’s fine. I mean… I guess technically I have insomnia? I generally wake up two or three times a night. Usually I just go back to sleep right away. But sometimes I can’t get back to sleep until it starts to get light.

And that’s when it’s hardest I think. That’s when I can’t escape all of the mistakes I’ve made and all of the people I’ve hurt. How much bullshit and baggage I carry around with me.

And it’s silly because at any other time of day maybe I could… I don’t know. Let someone know that I’m sorry. Reach out in some way. Forgive someone who’d hurt me. Ask for forgiveness. Make amends.

At any other time of day I could ask someone for help. I could… tell someone that I’m struggling. Let someone know how close I am to hurting myself. How close I am to wanting to… you know.

But it’s the middle of the night. So I can’t.


I’d already booked my flights when I got a group-message from Smithy’s girlfriend, who’d been the one communicating all the funeral arrangements.

Just a quick note to let you know that there is to be no mention of Bethany at the funeral. It was one of Dan’s requests in his note. As some of you know Bethany left him in a very cruel way just before he died. She disappeared without warning and she has gone completely off-grid.

And the replies popped up. Everyone was angry at Bethany. They blamed her for his suicide. Agreed that she should never be mentioned again. That she was a shitty person and should have been the one who died.


That’s one of the reasons I hate living alone, you know? Because at least when there are other people in the house I can… I don’t know, this probably makes me seem like an absolute creep. But sometimes I get up and just… kind of listen at my housemate’s door or something and make sure I can hear them breathing. I lived with a girl who snored once. So loudly that I could hear her from my bedroom. That was almost nice, you know? I’d wake up and hear her snoring and I’d know I wasn’t alone.

But that’s the time I think about it. That’s the time I think about dying. In the middle of the night where there wouldn’t be anyone to stop me.

And even then I don’t really… want to, you know? I want someone to stop me. And people always tell me ‘oh you can always call me. At any time. Even if it’s the middle of the night.’ or I can call Lifeline or whatever.

I don’t know if that means maybe really all I want is attention from someone else? And maybe that means I shouldn’t ask anyone for help.

And also there’s only so many times I can call someone at 3am before they’re sick of my bullshit.


I’d been going to crash at Jim’s place. Another friend from Dan’s band back in the day. But I didn’t want to after that. I didn’t know how to disagree with them.

So I called Craig and asked if I could crash on his couch for a few days and he said he’d have to check with Sarah because they were living together and also they were getting married. He told me he would have invited me but Sarah wanted to keep the numbers low. I said it was fine but he kept apologising for it. I felt like it would have been too awkward to be there anyway but it was difficult to get him off the phone.

When people want to get close to me I push them away. I want to run. I want to escape.

And I wonder
what would happen
if I just stopped

If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or self harm please keep yourself safe. You can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or find a crisis line in your country.

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2 responses to “5 Tirade”

  1. Diane Avatar

    This is such a good representation of how cults get into your head and start fucking around. Another great chapter as usual 🙂

    1. Le Kendall Avatar

      thank you!! I always look forward to your comments and I hope you enjoy the final chapter (of this story! there are still more in the works!) in a couple of days.

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