Tag: friends

Purple cardigan

A story from my childhood has recently been featured on photographer and multidisciplinary artist Mindy Stricke’s website for her ‘Grief Landscapes’ project. You can find it here.

A little about ‘Grief Landscapes’ … ‘for the initial phase of Grief Landscapes, I’m documenting the unique terrain of people’s grief through photography and a collaborative process with the public. First, I’m inviting people to participate by answering a series of questions online about how they grieved after someone’s death. I’m then photographing an object in extreme close-up that evokes the memory of the person who died, transforming it into an abstract landscape inspired by the participant’s grief story.’

Thank you for all of your hard work, Mindy and for sharing Ineka with the world.

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Trying to breathe when you are drowning

Ever had a newborn baby put into your arms and breathed them in? Like really breathed them in as though it were your last breath? I’ve been thinking of experiences that trump being high, and this is the most powerful that comes to mind. I have four nephews and was lucky enough to be present (and I mean really fucking present) for two of their births. Aside from when I was dying, I’ve never experienced life in such an intense and all-consuming way that would change me, and even alter the course of what I thought I knew.

I remember a life-altering experience with my first nephew when he was a week young. I was laying down on my sisters couch with his little furled up body on my chest. It was just us and I could feel his tiny heart beating the most beautiful tune I’d ever heard. For about an hour our hearts melded together. That seemingly golden hour – as well as feeding him (with a bottle of course), and sharing a bath with him as he discovered his feet could magically splash water from floor to ceiling, replete with squeals of delight – was as close as I would ever get to feeling like a mother.

It was all kinds of wonderful and gave me the slightest glimpse into the all-encompassing blazing, bonding love and emotion a mother must feel for her child. That fierce sense of protection so they are safe from everything and everyone is something I’ve felt time and time again over the years with these boys, and I maintain that I’m lucky to be alive to be here to see their safe arrival and help shepherd their passage through life. That baby is now thirteen – the other three not far behind – and we share an unbreakable bond. Better than any drug, if you ask me.

After publishing my little essay on addiction, I’ve heard from people the world over who have fought and slayed their own demons. I have also been written by people who are still struggling and who asked for advice. While I’m not a doctor, I’ve found the most important thing is to be supported, whether that’s by your family, friends or a health professional. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been supported by the afore mentioned triumvirate, but now it seems I’ve entered strangers into the mix. Over the last few days I’ve laughed and cried along with every emotion in between, as people have regaled me with their stories – some of desperation and others marked with a stark and ironic hilarity that only a fellow addict can appreciate (think intense constipation and exploding bowels, a la Trainspotting).

A close friend of mine called me in tears saying that she wished she could have helped me; that she had suspected I was on drugs, but she never wanted to say anything in case she was wrong, and that she felt guilty because she could have helped. The thing is – and I told my friend this – no one could help me until I wanted to help myself. 

You need to be ready, and in my case, I wasn’t ready until I’d reached my lowest ebb. I reason that sometimes a flash flood is better than a steady storm. Floods get deep into the pain where you didn’t think it could even exist, and flooded rivers are often a ruse. Smooth and placid on the surface, but venture below the waterline and it’s that surge taking everything with it that will kill you. Trying to get your head above water once you’re under is close to impossible. Your best chance of survival is if a lifeline is thrown your way, but that so rarely happens. Sometimes if your body lands the right way up, you can take a breath – and another and another and another – then you can look around and swim towards the shore. My advice is to swim as hard as you can and don’t stop until you’ve reached dry land.

Lifeline – 13 11 14

Beyond Blue – 1300 22 46 36.

EXTRA-ordinary

So yesterday was an ordinary day. Except that it was amazing. I was up at sparrows, caught up with a couple of girlfriends where I had chocolate fudge cake for breakfast (thank you, Larissa – baking champion!), I finished packing up the car for my trip down to the farm so I can head to the Byron Bay writers festival today and over the weekend; had a heavenly morning tea and brain storming session with my beautiful sister, then I hotfooted it over to a dear friends place to meet his and his fiancés baby boy.

Now this was special, because I was bestowed the honour of being one of Nicholas’s ‘ninangs’ (godparent in Filipino), where with some very dear friends and my mum gathered to share the yummiest of lunches as we ogled young Nicholas. He’s a beauty! Here’s Bec (also scrumptious) and I with bub just before lunch was served. He’s so gorgeous we wanted to have him for dessert!

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After lunch, I jumped in my car and made the drive to my friends farm where I was greeted by two very excitable pups, a roaring fire, tea and hugs. And this is how I ended my night (cuppa and pups not in frame).

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So why was today so extraordinary? It was normal. I wasn’t plagued by pain or headaches, I had energy that I almost didn’t know what to do with, and I got to see some of my most favourite people in the world. I met a new human being, and as we looked into each others eyes, I knew we had met before. It was as though we had reconnected, but no time had passed.

Is this how people feel most days? Full of beans and not wanting to stop because you’re afraid that if you do you won’t get up again? Like John Denver sings – ‘some days are diamonds, some days are stone.’ Yesterday was one big, fat diamond.

Now it’s time to head into Byron to be a cafe dog with Hyperactive Harry – the dog who can (and does) chew through all manner of inedible stuff that he somehow finds delicious. Leather collars, computer chargers, kindles … you name it, he’s tried to chew through it. Then it’s off to the writers fest, which has a superb line up. Hooray for the ordinary!