Just a quick update on the publishing comments - I don't have a publisher yet. I'm just getting the manuscript polished - but I will publish it myself if it doesn't get picked up.
Of course I don't mind signing books and giving away a few copies to my bestest blog mates!
On the health front - I'm having a great week, which is a welcome relief. My mood is finally getting back to what it normally is (happy in grande size) pretty good. Fingers crossed, I think that maybe all my medications are starting to work together rather than fight against each other, which is helping me cope a lot better. I'm exactly half way along now and I know how quickly this year will fly by - I mean, it's nearly march already !!
Later this year, all my girlfriends and partners are traveling to Zimbabwe (sp?) and I've been invited along for the adventure. It's pretty exciting slash nerve-wracking!
I'm starting to finalize the details (probably learning how to spell said destination would be an ideal starting point !!)
I've oft felt that I was born to explore the world rather than make a static nest inside a sealed section of the universe then fill that nest with a brood of children. Then again, I'm still working out my destination - so the journey itself is constantly changing. I don't know (still) what I want to be when I grow up. Argh! Of course, it doesn't help that I struggle with focusing on what I actually want from life long- term. Instead, I prefer to get caught up in whims and a constant evolution of a dream. A dream to be bigger and better than your past, to rise above it all and hold your head high. It's a double edged sword, a driving force and a knife in your back.
I don't know whether I've mentioned it previously but I traveled to Japan as an exchange student and had the experience of a lifetime. I adore the Japanese culture and people, I still speak the language fluently and regularly eat Japanese cuisine. Apart from that brief trip to Yokohama, I haven't really left my home state. Of course, I paid for the trip myself as I knew I wanted to go, regardless of leaving home 8 months before.
It was a long held dream of mine to travel to Japan as I'd studied the language for four years and held a fascination with the culture and traditions. In addition to my desire to go, I knew the asking price of $1500 dollars all inclusive, was a bargain that would not be repeated for me outside a school subsidised program. In fact, I still remember clearly that day in class when Sensai first called for expressions of interest. As a student of the language, the trip is viewed as the ultimate reward for achieving wonderful results in the subject. Not tooting my own trumpet, but I knew at the time my grades were good and I would be accepted to be a part of the exclusive program.
However, all my life I'd witnessed my parent's inability to manage their finances, we had never been able to afford such luxuries, my upbringing was humble and modest. The idea of becoming successful and creating a secure future was imposed on us but never really demonstrated. My parents have never led by example when it comes to money and emotional issues. Dad's drinking and bad planning has been a constant drain on our family. They live day to day, like most lower class families. To aim higher than my parents at the age of 17, I felt fear - I knew no different. I thought the idea of traveling on an airplane was grossly decadent, a dream that would always remain a dream. Luckily though for me, even the eight months of separation from my parents had rescinded my drive and belief that I deserved to have anything I was willing to work for. I called upon my spirit, the same spirit that strengthened my resolve to leave that house, with all its sticky pain that clung to all of me. This spirit was new and wanting, I'd manage to take charge of my new life spirit - freedom.
I raised my hand tentatively at first and in the air it kind of wavered. I hovered my hand meekly above my head, but I was almost begging to be hid back under the desk, unable to be counted. Sensai looked in my direction and so did most of the class and I saw suprised looks on their faces. I felt my face burn bright red. It was no secret that I had a bad home life and I'd left home. (Most the entire grade had attended a huge party at my house, the lack of adult supervision was definitely considered heavenly. )
Therefore, by grade 12 most teachers knew (unfortunately) that I no longer lived with my parents and that I supported myself. I was permitted by the Principal to sign all my own notes and questioned my teachers in parent/teacher interviews. It was surreal times as I openly smoked in the teachers carpark as I pondered how I landed in 'The Real World"...
I was determined to finish school, I always wanted to give myself the best chance. It's true that in hindsight I wish I'd could've stayed at home and I wish that it was different and they were different. What teenager would not prefer to just be a kid and concentrate on grades and dating as opposed to figuring out how you are going to pay bills and groceries. However, I also wouldn't change a thing as I nearly died in that house, my spirit and sanity slowly sucking away. They thought they could be different but they couldn't possibly know where to start.
The worst kind of parent is one that doesn't know what they just don't know !
Anyways, I spoke frankly to the teacher after class. I aired my concerns with him. His name was Mr Greer and he was wonderfully supportive. Slowly, I admitted that sometimes I could hardly feed myself but in spite of this I still wanted to go - more than anything else in the whole world. He smiled and I felt like I was getting somewhere. Finally.
I wanted to have one thing in my school life that I would remember as brilliant.
I wanted to be like the other kids - this was my last chance.
He listened to me as I convinced him that I was coming to Japan but inside my head I was faltering. Could I be so audacious to assume that I could afford such a grand plan to travel the world? Did I dare to dream ?
Would I even know how to do all the planning and organization?
Then I had a quicksilver thought, a flash of brilliance....
How could I overlook any chance to make myself complete and all that I was created to be ?
I'd spent most of my upbringing being something to everyone but nothing to myself. My first concern was the other toxic people in my life - I loved them with all a child has but it still wasn't enough. I will never know why.. I guess thats why it felt so strange to reward myself, to be kind to myself.
Growing up in that house, I'd stretched myself so thin that my childhood snapped with the pressure. I could never just be a child. I always found myself playing marriage counselor to The Stepmother. Babysitter to my drunken father.Sex plaything to my Stepbrother. Step- parents to my younger siblings. My childhood memories are patchy, segments black and vapid but that comes from living out a childhoood were you never remember your parent's face light up, whenever you walked into the room. After leaving this environment, I hoped with all I had that I could reward myself for living through that - I had to get on the elephants back and ride like a queen or risk being trampled by the herd. I'm lucky I learnt this young.
I spoke frankly and honestly to Mr Greer into the late afternoon, long after the last school bus left the empty grounds. I'd love to thank that teacher (and many others) for having faith in me that day. I gave him my word that it could be done and I learnt that without your word, you really don't have anything. I told my teacher how my father had uprooted us from the city and fix the family but all it did was make us all the more isolated from each other. Mr Greer asked me gently if I could contemplate moving back home.. I knew that I couldn't but how could I explain. Instead, I started to cry and shake and that was the end of that idea.
Never go backwards...the future is your best thing going.
You could've seen my beaming smile from outer space as I left the Teacher's office with the relevant forms and passport application tucked into my school bag to go home and try to understand. I knew I would have to definately get a job but I also knew that I would find a way - I had the will. I loved that day, I was bulletproof - nothing was going to break my stride. I admit that I actually felt privledged to be travelling with the elite kids doing what rich people's children dod. What made it sweeter to be me was that I always knew I was worth it.
Every single cent and more.
I busied myself with the excitement of travel. I knew that taking a first step for my future would finally absolve me of that horrible feeling of poverty and stress that always accompanied every decision that had been made in my life up until then. I knew that I was on my own now and I could finally take charge - how could I throw this away after years of suppression and pain.
I'm very proud to admit that I paid entirely for my trip by working after school and saving my government allowance (which I was awarded because my parents were deemed damaging to my well-being) in record time. The Stepmother has always made me feel guilty about that trip, implying that the government paid for the trip with dollars that were gleaned from the family heartache.
Hence, I get a little bit of travel anxiety ! I don't know why she still affects me but I guess in time it will fade. I deserve to see the world and if my parents are not willing to change destiny, then they at least have to accept mine.
I hit a stumbling block though when I required signatures for my passport. Reluctantly, I told my parents that I was going to Japan. I knew they would not be happy for me, they would view my goal as me trying to be better than them. I have no idea why both my parents have thought this. In fact, it's always been like that. I'm daring to think that maybe I am a better person than them. Maybe this will forever be the very barrier to a love I've always wanted, never known ? I don't know the future but I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't care.
Instantly, Stepmother seized the opportunity to sabotage my dreams. She steadfastly refused to sign my passport froms unless I agreed to move back into the Parental home. I had no choice but to agree, I'd already paid a hefty deposit for the trip and it was non-refundable. I felt cheated out of a choice,I pleaded with my father to see that it was blackmail.
Back then (and still to present day) I couldn't ever make my Father understand that it wasn't my fault/choice to reject them when I'd fled home - it was simply never a home for me. I didn't see the point in putting my development on hold for a moment longer, I didn't need parents to ruin me any further (perhaps permantly) before I'd had a crack at raising myself with a goal to keep my happy nature that is my essense. I never regret making that choice.
Growing up as a "child" I often felt like that period was similar to waiting out a jail sentence . Naturally this deeply offends my father who is my only remaining blood relative left to protect me. I'm sure that my confessions and memoirs do hurt him - isn't he lucky that he didn't actually have to live it. I did and I was only a small child. I should feel no shame.
When a child runs away from home, people finally start to notice that maybe their suspicions of abuse were right. This resulting attention from relatives and friends and nieghbours, made my parents desperate to reinstate a sense of normality to the unit. They felt that I would only come back unless pressured, but up until then they had nothing to offer - until they saw how much the trip to Japan meant to me.
My parents tried everything to back my silence. With the threat of my trip being cancelled, I promised my father I would return home and became instantly depressed and anxious. I know that it tore my fathers heart out when I turned outside of the family, to find my place in the world. I know that he turned away from me, one last time and he has never come back.
Then the drug addiction over the ensuing years only seemed to convince them that I was the problem, it seemed to make the guilt almost easier to bear. This is the reason they let me burn, but I'm not bitter - people are people and parents aren't perfect.
My father detests me speaking about this period, as I'm out in the world speaking out and being myself whilst they will always live in fear and shame of their mistakes. Rather than apologise they internalise the heartache for decades past and many more to come. It breaks my heart that this has become my fathers destiny - but we all make choices. I will still love him.
Reluctantly, I moved in three days prior to my departure to Tokyo and tried to fit back in with the family unit (nothing had changed) I had the time of my life and I remember wishing I could stay with the Japanese family rather than go back home and face life with my own family.
I had nothing more to give them - not even a second chance.
Upon my arrival home, The stepmother collected me from the Airport and instantly I felt the pressure filling up stones inside my chest. She wasn't interested in my travel stories and excitement, my happiness only ever seemed to incense her hostility. Instead she cut short my animated chatter by sniping that"It was ridiculous that a child could go gallivanting overseas whilst her parents were unable to even put food on the table" I knew that nothing would ever change and in the icy silence of trip home to "the Hellhouse" I rationalized breaking my word to my Parent's and re-packing my boxes and moving back over the road. Yes, I actually lived across the road from my parents for about six months after I started to hang out with older people. That's how I met hale s as she lived across the road from my parent's house. Whilst The Stepmother ate a creamcake watching Days Of Our Lifes, I calmly packed all of my things and walked them to other side of the street.
Sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side...
Speaking of family, my younger sister came up to see me a few weekends ago and we spent some time bonding and doing sisterly stuff. I'm relieved that she's doing well since moving out of home. I know she is 18 and that's not really that unusual but I also know my sister very well and she has been spoilt in ways that I never was ( In fact after my traumatic upbringing my parents totally changed the upbringing of the children after I left home at 16.)
I explained that I had not gone home to see my parents since she had left at Xmas. She asked me why and I felt ashamed, but only for a moment. Inside, I'm fuming that my Father had failed to ask me anything about my Hepatitis . I knew that I was ready to confront Dad and also The Stepmother about the lack of interest in my health. I'd deliberately avoided the stressful return to "home" because it unearthed massive pain and frustration and the doctors have asked that I limit my contact with hostile environments whilst in therapy.
However, things have a funny way of working out and when dropping my sister back to The Gold Coast she needed to collect a makeup kit from home. Reluctantly, I trudged up the driveway as I knew that I would never hear the end of it, if I remained in the car whilst she went inside to get her things.
Then all shit broke loose.
I opened my mouth and I nailed my parents to the floor.
They think it's over for now, but that was round one.
Dad also said I can't use them in the book.
So sue me. I said "you guys did it" I live with it, so you guys can live with it too.
Every year I get stronger, they will not take this away from me.
Not when it's my story.
It's my life.
I will tell you about the conversation tomorrow, I need to go and practice for grading on March 12 - green belt. Pretty hard pattern but nothing I can't conquer.
Have a great day and kick something hard for me !
I'm not saying that I was hard done by and that's why I'm clever. I'm saying that I always knew it was my destiny to be in charge of my own happiness and this is a lesson we could all learn. Heroinegirl on msn today...