Last night I dreamt about my parents
I was visiting with my kids and we were all walking by a large pond of water. The water was clear and I could see large objects, covered in green leafy matter, sitting on the bottom. As the kids ventured close to the waters edge I asked my dad
“What if there’s crocodiles in the water?”
My dad shook his head and said “nah, crocs would be on the surface.”
In an instant, one of the objects rose to the water’s surface. Not a crocodile but a huge basking shark. It’s mouth was constantly opening and closing as it ate anything and everything that was in the water.
I called my children away, warned others to stay away from the edge.
I called to my mother – “be careful!” It was suddenly so noisy.
“It’s fine she said, you’re over reacting”
“I’m just trying to be cautious” I pleaded. I was standing so close to her, shouting in her face. “That’s what you do for people you love, you look out for them. You be concerned!”
But she just looked at me blankly, and in my dream heart I ached.
Later, knowing she had hurt me, she offered me endless beautiful silk scarves and gifts she had picked up in her travels.
I rejected everyone.
It was too late. I was already packing our belongings to leave.
I was going away.
I was already gone.
How do you balance being the person you are, right now – with the person you were raised to be?
You see, I am who I am. A grown woman with three kids on her second marriage. The choices I’ve made have lead me here. Every choice I make counts.
I get that. I get it right down to my bones.
I hold myself responsible for everything.
And yet in kindness, I can see a small lonely frightened child hidden away inside.
And that child has also directed who I am and where my life has gone.
Can I escape being the kind of wanker who blames everything on their unhappy childhood?
Can I continue with this introspection and still retain a shred of dignity?
When will enough be enough? When will I know when I’m done?
Right now I trying to hold myself in this place of no judgement.
Right now grown up me (the mother) holds the scared child close and tight.
I love her unconditionally.
But one day, I hope to be able to let her go so she can journey on her own.
I’m trying to be kind to myself.
I’m a good person, but am I?
Sometimes I don’t care about other people’s shit.
But sometimes I really do.
I don’t steal or lie or hit.
But maybe one day I could.
Maybe one day I will lose it and lash out.
And then all the goodness will come undone.
What do good people do?
Do they give to charity? Help old ladies across the street?
Do they knit scarves for homeless hamsters?
How many lives am I expected to live, to be able to fit in all the things I’m supposed to be doing?
There’s not enough time. There never seems to be enough.
I’m running out.
My parents considered me a difficult child.
Sometimes I stole stuff. Sometimes I lied and made up stories.
Sometimes I wouldn’t talk to them.
Sometimes I was defiant.
Sometimes I wouldn’t help out.
Sometimes I was angry and resentful.
Sometimes I pushed their boundaries.
Sometimes I was lonely.
Sometimes I felt invisible and irrelevant.
Sometimes I felt like the little I asked for was deemed too much.
Sometimes I just wanted to be seen.
Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
And sometimes it’s cast aside, not worth the trouble.
Self harm is an interesting beast. It bubbles up from nowhere parading itself as suicidal ideation, when in reality it is a sometimes more insidious beast.
Self harm wants us to strip down to our bones, to flay our skin, to twist and pinch and punch and slap. It wants us to feel crazy, then sated by the sight of our own blood, our own pain.
It’s a thing we hide. Shameful. We wear long sleeves to cover our own bruises from loved ones, and remain silent when our hairdresser notices large clumps of our hair is missing – like it’s been pulled out. It has been. I did this.
We feel childish and half finished, because we can’t find the words, can’t make ourselves heard. We can’t get through life like grownups do. Instead we punish ourselves and cry for help in secret.
Judge me if you must, but see by my bruises, my cuts and blood, that I already judge myself more harshly than you ever could.
Self harm is a whisper. Please help me. Please hear me. Please.
My life has always been fraught, stretched thin – me holding on for dear life. Often I sense I am squeezing all the joy out of every tiny moment, so fixated on being one with myself and the Universe. Sometimes I can’t get out of my own way. I want so desperately to live a full and content life.
I beg the Universe for guidance. I follow the phases of the moon, read my horoscope, diagnose my own personality disorders. All with the hope of understanding and bettering who I am.
Someone once describe me as being tightly coiled like a spring – like one day I might finally snap. I don’t feel like someone who might go on a shooting rampage. But then the older I get the less I feel I know about myself.
I try to be chill. But even when I’m listening to music (which I’ve only recently given myself permission to do again) or reading a book, I worry that I’m just escaping, disappearing so I don’t have to face the reality of my reality.
I’m stuck between eternal navel gazing and tapping out of my own life.
I can’t seem to find a balance.
As a child I learnt that feelings and expressing them were an inconvenience. They made other people uncomfortable.
So instead I turned my discomfort into actions.
I became a human doing.
On the day I was born, the room was heavy with student doctors. Young men in white coats all peering at my young mother’s area, observing her like a curiosity.
They spoke about her, not too her. An object to be discussed and critiqued.
As my crowning moment arrived, Dr Khan stepped in the room, resplendent in an expensive cream coloured suit. The room watched on in awe as he snapped on his gloves and gave my mum a knowing tap on the leg. He smiled briefly over is shoulder to the student cohort. His face said it all – “Watch the master do his thing”
My mother strained, clutching her own mothers hand and blood from my birth gushed from her opening. And as the young students watched on, Dr Khan’s suit was spattered with bright red blood. Not a spot, not a drop, but a gout of blood – like a cut throat.
Exhausted and clutching her precious daughter, her legs still spread from the exertion my mother lay there as Dr Khan, with beautiful coffee coloured skin, screamed at her.
“I’m sending you the dry cleaning bill for this!” Then turning on his heel, stalked out of the room, leaving it’s occupants in stunned silence.
This is the story of how I came to be. A baby born. A baby that from its very first breath on earth, refused to be ignored. Refused to be an object.
A baby who grew to be a person who struggled every day to feel worthy.
It’s been almost 44 years since. And that dry cleaning bill remains unsent. Unpaid.