March on, sisters!

22 Jan

I want to say up front that this post is 100% sincere. I can understand that the name of this website might mislead people into thinking that I don’t support women’s rights, but that’s not the case at all. When I see things like this magnificent expression of women demanding rights and opposing that orange little con-man who just took office in the US, I am beyond stoked.

One seriously awesome woman: Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem is a legend and hearing her speak about not letting the people be divided is so satisfying because not only does she get it, she’s communicating it to all the women of the world.

This is real feminism. This is a genuine fight for equality that is making a real impact on the world. I love it.

While Trump supposedly only affects America, the truth is that he, and those like him impact us all, worldwide. Seeing all the global sister protests coming together to say “Fuck that guy” is one of the most impressive political statements I’ve ever seen.

Look at the numbers in Boston! Holy mother of crap!

One thing I want to point out is that these protests are not targeted at ‘men’ generally, they are targeted specifically at Donald Trump, and deservedly so. Beyond that, the protesters and they protest leaders are speaking about women’s issues without blaming men for those issues, and that’s really, really important.

That point that Gloria Steinem made about not being divided is absolutely essential for us all moving forward. Removing power mongers like trump requires unity. Pushing for women’s rights requires unity. Pushing for equality requires unity.

It’s absolutely beautiful seeing unity in action around the world today, fighting the good fight.

Origins #27

13 Jan

I promised at the end of origins #26 that I’d give you some insight into how I grew up because it’ll become relevant to the story, so buckle your seatbelts, because my back story is so fully of Jerry Springer type shit that you probably won’t even believe it.

This one’s epic so don’t expect to get through it in one go…

My family

Like most people of my generation, I was born to a man and a woman. My mother had already had two daughters to her first husband before I arrived. They were 9 and 7 years old respectively when I showed up, and my little brother, also born to my father, would join us about a year and a half later.

So right off the bat, I’ve got two half sisters and a brother, but my father had already had a son to another woman, so I had another half brother. I only met him once though, so I don’t think of him as family.

I would eventually learn that when my mother was 19, she’d gotten pregnant to some handsome young foreigner who promptly skipped out on her, leaving her too embarrassed to admit the situation to her parents, and gaving that child up for adoption. So, technically speaking, I have another half brother out in the world.

But wait… there’s more!

My mother and father never married. In fact, my father was out of the picture before my brother was even born. My mother then found a man who already had 3 daughters of his own, and married him, making him my stepfather. His daughters were older than my sisters and lived with their mother, but technically this added 3 stepsisters to my already complex family.

Say what!?

So, technically I have 2 half sisters, 3 step sisters, 2 half brothers (one of whom I’ve never met and the other I only met once), and one full blood brother.

But when I talk about my family, I refer to my two half sisters as my sisters, and my full blood brother as my brother, and even though I called him ‘Dad’ most of my childhood, I refer to my stepfather as my stepfather, and only ever refer to my father as my father, neither of them ever get the title Dad these days.

The story begins

My sisters and their father

As I mentioned, my mother had her first son at the age of 19 but gave him up for adoption. That would have been back in 1968. Then in 1970 my mother met and married Les Harland, and they would go on to have my sisters, Erica in late 1970, and Kylie in 1972.

I don’t know when Les and my mother divorced, but I know that before that happened, Les molested both Erica and Kylie, and I know that he did this repeatedly. I also know he was a taxi driver with a gambling addiction, so what money he did make, burned through his pockets so quickly he might as well not have made any at all.

Sadly, I believe it was the gambling, not the sexual assault that caused the divorce. I’m not sure if my Mum knew of the abuse at the time but it became common knowledge in the family before the girls eventually moved out of home. Nothing was ever done about it and it drives me crazy.

My father, me, and my brother

I’m not sure how long my mother had to get by as a single parent of two young daughters, but I she must have known my father since at least 1978, because I was born in 1979. My father, Henry, was an alcoholic. I knew that since I was little, but it wasn’t until 2016 that I would learn that he was also violent and that he would sometimes come home drunk and climb into bed with my sisters, claiming it was all just a mistake the next day.

Come 1981, with my brother Alex still in her womb, my mother and father went their separate ways. I didn’t know anything about what caused the end of their relationship when I was a kid. All I knew was there was a time my father was around, and then he wasn’t around any more.

I was told repeatedly as a kid that because my parents were never married, making me a bastard. I think that’s why I always assumed I was the result of an accidental pregnancy.

My father didn’t disappear completely. He would visit us on Christmas and Easter and our birthdays. And then just on Christmas, and maybe our birthdays. And then maybe our birthdays. And then just text messages.

I know my father went bankrupt. I know he lost his drivers license for 10 years. I know I look a lot like him. I know he left behind his first son, and then he left my brother and I behind as well, and then he took up with a lady who already had two sons and was a father to them.

Love your neighbour

With my father gone and my mother with 3 children and one on the way, she had very little choice but to move into the cheapest place she could find. That would be a block of flats in one of the cheapest suburbs in Perth at the time.

Being the only parent, she had to work, which meant she had to rely on people to baby-sit. The problem was, my mother had moved to Perth from a small country town and didn’t really know many people, least of all in this new suburb, so she had to make friends with her neighbours and have them baby-sit us.

I would later learn that one of those neighbours who babysat us was imprisoned for molesting children.

The kids need a man in the house

My mother was of the opinion that children need a father, and I’m sure the idea of no being dependent on neighbours to baby-sit spurred her on too, so she made sure to find a man to play the role of father to her now 4 children. My mother married my stepfather, Des, in the early 80s, but I couldn’t tell you the year.

My first memory of Des, which might actually be my first ever memory, is of telling Des I’d race him to our new HomesWest (government) house.

I remember running my little legs off down the footpath. I remember that I beat him. I was about 4 years old and yet I outran a fully grown man. The fact that Des smoked at least a  pack of Winfield Blues every day probably had something to do with my victory.

Our new house was in a different part of that same, very poor suburb my Mum we had all been living in, but I remember being overwhelmed with excitement that we didn’t have to live in the flats any more.

Plenty of fish in the sea

So, how did my mother meet my stepfather? I didn’t find out until about 15 years later, but they actually met through a dating agency. Back in the day that was seen as a somewhat embarrassing thing, but my mother had four kids so I’m not surprised she went that path, but let me tell you why Des ended up going that route.

Des was mentally ill. I believe that was what caused his divorce from the mother of his daughters. Des had worked at a shoe factory for 30 years and had a mental breakdown along the way. I assume that either that caused the divorce, or that the divorce caused the breakdown.

Either way, he got a fortnightly needle in the bum to keep him in check, and he smoked all those cigarettes as a form of self medicating. He said they calmed him down. He’d sit there in a cloud of smoke lighting the next cigarette while he’s still smoking the current one, just to avoid the few seconds between them.

Us kids new that Des was sick, but we didn’t know exactly what that meant. We just knew he was ‘crazy’ and that he’d had electroshock therapy.

Like so many other parts of my life, it wasn’t until many years later that I’d find out the actual condition Des had. I remember very clearly reading the black typewritten text on the yellowed paper, it said “Schizophrenia”. If I hadn’t seen that document, I’m not sure I would have ever found out.

A big family in a little house

It was a three bedroom house so Mum and Des were in the master bedroom. Erica and Kylie were in one bedroom, and Alex and I in the other room.

We must have been there before I started pre-primary because I remember very distinctly one time Mum picked me up from Kindergarten to bring me home to that house…

As Mum took a right hand turn the door on my left swung open, not having been properly closed, and I rolled out of that open door. I don’t know if I was actually buckled into a seat belt or not but by caution or dumb luck I ended up tangled upside down in that brown, ratty, old, non self-tightening belt, dangling millimetres from the road. No harm, no foul, I suppose.

So if I was still in kindy, I was younger than 5, which means Alex was about 3, Kylie was about 12 and Erica was roughly 14. Until recently I remembered those early days very fondly. That would change as a result of the rest of what happens in the origins story.

It’s not like there weren’t bad times, I just didn’t think about them very often. I guess that was part of my technique of choosing to not care about things as a way to stop them affecting me.

Bad things

I’m not super keen to tell you the bad things, but I think it really helps explain a lot of why the rest of the origins story plays out the way it does.

For starters, I grew up around two girls who had been sexually abused, that in itself is a very bad thing. My sisters both struggled to cope with the fallout of being abused. Of course they struggled, they were little girls who had been violated and they wouldn’t have had the skills to properly process all the feelings that come with such a violation. They also weren’t taken to anyone to help them understand the situation, and worst of all, the perpetrator was never even arrested for his crimes. In fact, the police were never even informed that these crimes were committed.

Erica’s way of dealing with having been molested was to turn in on herself and become a very quiet, timid girl who just wanted to be alone as much as possible. Kylie went the other way. She became aggressive and loud and in-your-face, and she became quite violent.

Dealing with Kylie

Kylie, being 7 years older than me, had a significant height and weight advantage over me, and I’d been told I was never allowed to hit a girl, no matter what. That meant as futile as my defences might have been against someone so much older, I wasn’t even allowed to fight back. Unfortunately for me Kylie knew that too.

She used to torment me. She used to straight up torture me.

Kylie would learn all these martial arts moves and use them against me. She’d bend my arm behind my back and sit on me to hold me in place, then she’d punch me with one  knuckle pushed out to give me a “dead arm” or a “dead leg“, or one of each, or all four limbs at once, depending on her mood.

Then there were the pressure points, Chinese burns, the camel bites, the hair pulling, the ear twisting, the head locks, the good old fashioned kicks to any and every part of my body, but the biggest prize in Kylie’s eyes, was to get me right in the balls.

Logically I know there’s no shame in being Even though I know mathematically there should be no shame in that for me, it’s hard to ignore the fact that you were beaten by a girl, especially because Kylie would point that out to me while she was beating the shit out of me. She’d literally say things like “You’re getting beat up by a girl,” or “I’m just a girl, I can’t hurt a boy,” and my least favourite of all… “Are you gonna cry?” which would of course be said in repetition while she hit me over and over until the pain overwhelmed my tiny little body and eventually the tears would come out.

I hated the pain but what I hated more was someone forcing me to do what they wanted, and enjoying making me feel weak. The fact that I wasn’t allowed to fight back made it so much worse.

You might think that because Kylie tortured me that I didn’t care for her, but you’d be wrong. I loved her dearly. I hated that she hurt me, but because she was so smart she was fun to play games with and she was witty and funny and just fun to be around. Despite all the shit she put me through, she was probably my favourite sibling.

I loved her so much that seeing her accidentally run through a glass door and get all cut up left me so traumatised and upset that I urinated blood for a few days afterwards.

Dealing with Des

I knew Des was ‘crazy’ but I didn’t know what that meant, exactly, but I knew he’d act really weird sometimes and that I’d have no idea why. I’d say something that everyone else in the room understood to mean one thing, but Des would take it as a personal attack. Even as a little kid I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so I’d try really hard to word things as inoffensively as possible, but he’d always find new ways to be offended by me.

Des was one of those people who claim to be Christian but never go to church and completely ignore the basic teachings of the bible. Regardless, he was quite focussed on God and Jesus and the devil.

One day, very early on when I was maybe 6, Des told me that he knew that Alex, my little brother was second coming of Jesus, and that I was the Antichrist. I didn’t even know what the Antichrist was. I had to ask the guy at the Church the rest of us actually did go to what it meant, and he just said “the devil”.

So Alex was all that is good, and I was all that is evil. That’s a hell of a thing to hear when you’re barely old enough to tie up your own shoes.

Another important thing about Des was the fact that he was almost completely illiterate, which meant that I was able to read more than him by about mid-way through year one (5/6 years old). Des hated that. When I would try to read my little golden books I loved so much, he’d accuse me of trying to rub it in that I was smarter than him.

And Des sure didn’t mind giving a hiding. Any chance he got he’d belt my scrawny little frame until I was a blubbering mess. Sometimes I couldn’t sleep because I was so sore that night. Sometimes it was a few nights later before I could get comfortable again.

When Des hit me, it was terrifying. Obviously getting smacked is going to be scary for a little kid, but Des would get this look in his eyes. They’d bulge out a bit and it was like an animal was attacking you. I don’t know how else to describe it but the scariest part of all was not knowing if he’d stop.

Sometimes he’d at least start out trying to be playful. He’d tickle me and I’d laugh, and then he’d keep tickling me for too long and I’d scream at him to stop, but he’d keep tickling me. He’d hold me down and keep tickling me and he’d ask “what, are you gonna cry?” “Are you a little cry baby?” And, big shock, a little kid will cry if you do that to them long enough.

He’d pull that whole “Are you gonna cry?” thing when it didn’t start out so playful as well. Sometimes he just wanted to prove that he was stronger than me, so he’d just hold me down and poke me, or just say mean shit to me, or keep smacking me, or whatever else would come to his mind, but it was always with the same goal… of making me cry.

Dealing with Des, part 2

Des was violent, and certainly that was something I disliked about him, but physical pain dissipates so quickly. The things that stick with a kid, or at least this kid, are the things people say, and Des just loved to tell me things.

He’d tell me that I was ugly. That I was a “slow learner” (that era’s equivalent to retard). He’d tell me I was useless, and selfish, and greedy, that I was weak, that I had a stupid smile, and that I dumb, that I was stupid, that I was too skinny, and worthless, and on and on.

A couple of his absolutely favourites were, “No girl will ever want you.” and “You’ll never keep a job.

It’s hard to know how often he said those things. I didn’t like to hear them so I tried very hard to not let them in, and I managed to forget about them for a very long time. When I was reminded that I was told all those sorts of things, it felt like I must have heard them every single day of my childhood, but I’m sure it couldn’t have been that frequently. I can assure you though, that it was a very, very regular occurrence for me to hear those sorts of things.

Dealing with Des, part 3

I was not Des’ only target. Des didn’t like Kylie much either. Kylie was smart and the older she got, the harder it became for anyone to make Kylie do anything she didn’t want to do.

Kylie was a straight A student in primary school but that all changed when she started high school. All of a sudden she wanted to be with the cool kids and she focused her attention on that instead of school. Her grades plummeted and her lack of respect for authority started to put her at odds with Des.

They were at each other constantly. They’d scream at each other, and swear, and sometimes Des would smack her and if he did Kylie would fight back.

Our little 3 bedroom HomesWest home wasn’t big enough for the two of ’em, and I bet the whole suburb could hear it. I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that this battle escalated over time.

The peak of their battle happened while I was still quite young. I estimate Kylie being around 15 at the time, making me about 8.

I remember Des and Kylie yelling at each other. I remember looking at them while they screamed at each other. Kylie’s hair whipping about as she moved. Des’ eyes bulging in that way that always meant trouble. His white singlet yellowed from wear and from absorbing the smoke of innumerable cigarettes. The cheap, grey, dress pants and belt he always wore around the house even though he never went anywhere or did anything.

I remember his hands around her throat.

I remember her ripping at his fingers for all she was worth.

I remember the stance of a man in his 40s wringing the neck of a young teenage girl, with him the aggressor, leaning forward, and her the desperate, overpowered victim, in a pose of sheer terror.

I remember standing there in my pyjamas wanting desperately to do something, and I remember not being able to move. I couldn’t even make a noise.

I remember the moment he dropped her limp body and how it collapsed into the ground.

I remember believing my sister was dead.

It felt like hours went by.

And then she suddenly made this ungodly noise, this revolting, animalistic heave of inhalation. It might well have been the most awful noise I had ever heard, but to me it was the most beautiful sound that could ever exist, it was the sound of my sister coming back from the dead.

And do you know what happened next?

My mother told us all he didn’t mean it. My mother genuinely believed we could all just carry on living the way we had before.

That didn’t work so well for Des. He had another nervous breakdown. He went back to Greylands for about 6 weeks and got some more electroshock therapy.

Seeya later Kylie

Prize for the least surprising moment of this story goes to the fact that Kylie moved out almost immediately after Des tried to kill her. She went off to live with some friends and very quickly got in over her head with drugs and alcohol.

She met a man who somehow puts up with the chaos that she continues to generate even to this day and managed to have 4 children with him. The first was born when Kylie was 19.

Kylie accidentally killed their second child in her sleep by rolling onto him when he was just 11 days old. She told the rest of the world that her baby was a victim of SIDS. I didn’t find out the truth until 20 years after the fact.

Her other 3 children would go through a hectic upbringing surrounded by constant drug use and alcohol.

Seeya later Erica

Erica moved out within the same year as Kylie because she’d just finished year 12. She went off to live with my grandparents in a small country town. Erica had gotten progressively more religious as the years went on and the small town environment suited her well.

She would meet a man and have a child to him, only for the father of her child to disappear on her.

Due to her religion, Erica thought she should be able to forgive her father for molesting her, so when he came knocking looking for a place to live, having been kicked out by everyone else he knew, she took pity on him and let him move into her house with her and her young child.

I was very angry about it and made that well known, but people are going to do what they’re going to do.

It turned out that I was wrong about what would happen, but I was 100% right that letting that monster into her house was a terrible idea. See, as far as I know he didn’t touch Erica’s son, but he did leave his fucking cigarette lighter on the coffee table and leave Erica’s 5 year old son alone in the house with the cigarette lighter.

The house burned to the ground. Erica had no insurance.

I’m very thankful to say that the community rallied around Erica and her boy and they bought her a new house on the same block. I don’t tend to appreciate religion but I hope there’s a God out there who can reward those good people in the afterlife, and I hope there’s a devil to take care of Les Harland.

Where was my Mum in all this?

She was working.

Des got a disability pension but it all went on cigarettes. Just after he nearly killed Kylie he was smoking 100 cigarettes a day and his pension didn’t even cover his cigarettes at that point.

So my Mum had to work to cover all the bills, and holy shit did she ever work! She cleaned houses and was often gone for 12 or 14 hours a day, sometimes 7 days a week. Once a week she’d round Alex and I up to go deliver newspapers and we’d use the $4 we each made to buy our Red Rooster for dinner.

If my Mum could pick up some work washing dishes, or cleaning an office, or anything like that, she’d take it on. Whatever she could do, she would do.

My Mum made sure we had enough money to get by. Now, if you ever saw how skinny us kids were you might disagree, but we none of us starved to death. Sure, the other kids made fun of the holes in my clothes, and they made fun of how long I went without hair cuts, and that you my toes poked out of my shoes, and that I had to wear clothes I’d long since outgrown, but I’m still here and you don’t get much for being fashionable in primary school anyway.

One more thing about Mum working. Des would sit on the front porch waiting all day for her to come home. He’d sit there and stare at the street desperately nervous that this would be the day she wouldn’t come home.

He was right

Kylie left us. Erica left us. Turned out it was only a matter of time before Mum left us.

I’d finished school and had my first job when my Mum finally pulled the pin. Believe it or not, I didn’t see it coming at all.

My Mum and Des had never had a good relationship. They’d scream at each other and throw shit at each other and occasionally a plate or a coffee cup would explode on a wall between phrases like “You don’t fucking love me you lying bitch!” and “I’ve been working all day and you haven’t even done the dishes!” and “I’ll leave! I’ll fucking leave! Don’t you test me!”

You’d think the writing was on the wall in amongst the shattered porcelain, but I genuinely didn’t see it coming because they’d had this horrible, co-dependent relationship for 16 years by the time it finally broke.

I have no problem with my mother leaving my stepfather. It was the right thing for her to do. I wish she’d done it earlier.

What I do have a problem with is how my Mum finished things up. She just didn’t come home.

She didn’t fucking warn me and it was days before I knew what had happened to her. That was pretty stressful but it only got worse when she finally did contact me because she told me she’d spoken to HomesWest, the government housing body who she rented the house through and told them she was moving out. You have to have a certain number of people staying in your house to qualify for HomesWest and with Mum gone, we didn’t qualify any more.

So not only did my parents just break-up and my Mum had gone missing for days, I was now due to be evicted, effectively scheduled to be homeless.

For fuck’s sake.

Seeya Grandad

It’s difficult to cram a whole life into a single post but this story just wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include my Grandfather.

I’ve told you about my father, the alcoholic bankrupt. I’ve told you about my sisters’ father, the child molesting gambling addict; and I’ve told you about my stepfather, the schizophrenic stepdaughter strangler and all round child abuser.

As far as male role models they left a lot to be desired, but that didn’t matter because I had my Grandfather.

When World War II broke out my Grandad was too young to go, so he lied about his age and went anyway. He was shot through the knee and captured and was a prisoner of war for five years. He eventually gets back to Australia and he goes home and starts a farm, and does alright with that farm too. Not bad for a bloke who can no longer bend his left leg!

And as the world progressed, so did he. When he bought a Datsun ute, all his mates had a go at him for buying a Japanese vehicle. He said, simply “The war is over. We need to move on.”

And for a man who’d been through so much and worked so damned hard and seen his daughter make such bad decisions with men, he was nothing but adoring of his grandchildren, regardless of how they came about. He was always ready to have a laugh and always had a joke to tell.

I don’t know if the other kids felt the same but he made me feel special every time I saw him. He called me a special nickname that nobody else in the world ever called me and he’d pick me up and put me on his shoulders like fathers do in the movies. He played cricket with us into his 70s!

I got the short straw with a lot of things, but I had a legend of a grandfather and I’ll be forever thankful for that.

But my Grandfather left us too.

It happened just after I found out my Mum had left Des and I found out I was staring down an upcoming homelessness. Des got a call at home from someone looking for my Mum to let her know her father had been rushed to a hospital in Perth.

Des relayed the message to me when I came home for  my break in my shift at the pizza store. I wanted to call the pizza store to cancel my shift so I could go to the hospital but Des wouldn’t let me use the phone. He told me that my grandfather was ok, that I’d be able to see him tomorrow, that I should let him get some rest.

I argued but I was going to need all the money I could get for when we were evicted and Des seemed so certain that my Grandad was alright and that it wasn’t urgent and I was due back at work and I didn’t know what to do, so I went back to work.

When I got home 4 or so hours later, Des told me my Grandfather had passed away while I was at work.

I was devastated.

A few days later I found that document with Des’s diagnosis that I mentioned earlier. That word Schizophrenia answered a lot of questions.

The leftovers

I didn’t talk much about Alex. He was a good kid but a bit socially awkward. I love him but I didn’t treated him very well. I wasn’t nearly as violent to him as Kylie was to me, but we had our fair share of tussles and I always won, except for the time he chased me AND GOT ME with a steaming hot iron.

After Mum left us, I moved in with friends. It was great fun but after a few years I went back to study and moved in with my Mum, my brother, his wife, and their newborn child.

About a year and a half into that Mum tells me that she’s buying a house and that her, my brother and my brother’s wife would be going thirds in the mortgage.

That meant… I had nowhere to live… again.

So I moved in with some people I’d met through my studies. One of them used to many drugs and slipped into a drug induced psychosis which lead him to believe I was trying to hook up with his pregnant girlfriend, which wouldn’t be such a big deal if he hadn’t studied Muay Thai Kickboxing for 15 years and collected all his rage into a fist and king hit me while I was cleaning up after one of his parties.

He knocked me out and fractured my skull in the process. I don’t know how or why I didn’t fall over while that happened but he guy who x-rayed my skull said I’m lucky I didn’t because I would have very likely died.

After that I started a small business, played in a few bands got involved with that girlfriend I was with for 6 years. Literally nothing happened in that 6 years except for me getting fat, working really hard, driving my car at the race track and finally getting my job at Everlong.

Now back to the actual story

I hope this was remotely interesting to read. I think it’s necessary information for what’s ahead in the origins story and I’ll refer back to this a lot to help things make sense as the story continues.

Hopefully you feel like you know me a little better. I wasn’t lying about the Jerry Springer shit, was I?!

Origins #26

12 Jan

When last I left you, I was explaining that I’d nearly drunk myself to death in the fallout of what happened with my boss’s daughter, Rene. The hangover lasted over a week and that gave me plenty of time to think about why I’d gotten so drunk, or more to the point, why what happened with Rene had affected me so intensely.

Suckerpunched

I didn’t think I was that into Rene before we hooked up, so why had her rejecting me hit me so hard?

intheguts.gif

A big part of it was that I felt blindsided. I thought I’d handled a really weird situation about as well as I could have, and I thought I’d been gutsy to to have a go despite putting a lot at risk to do so. It felt like I’d been victim to a really weird bait and switch and I couldn’t figure out why anyone would do that, least of all Rene.

REEEEEJECTEDDDDDDD

rejected

I was so fucking confused.

It’s one thing to be rejected, but to be rejected by someone who days earlier was crying about you not being interested in them, and who then demanded you ask them out? It was a real head-fuck. On top of everything else I was dealing with, it really made me feel worthless.

With the bad comes the good, but with the good comes the bad

In the past, even all of that wouldn’t have been enough to knock me down.

I had developed this ability to not care about anything, to just keep going no matter what was happening. That had made me extremely resilient and that had been very useful for me, but about the time I broke up with my previous girlfriend (about a year and a half before), I’d realised that my ability to block everything out was not only protecting me from bad feelings, it was also blocking out all the good feelings, too, so if I ever wanted to experience real happiness I’d have to take off the armor, so to speak.

It had been a very scary thing for me to try to change my mindset and let my guard down. It had been a very difficult process to actually try and make that change, but over the course of a year and a half I had managed to start letting things in.

And that was all great. But I made the wrong choice about who to let in, and not having my guard up at that exact point in time might be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.

Broken trust

Try to follow my hokey little metaphor here…

I felt like I’d been doing my best to reduce the armor that I wore, that I’d progressively taken it off bit by bit and the only thing I still wore was the chest-plate, because that protects the most vulnerable part of me.

That night with Rene when she’d been crying, I felt like I was hurting her by keeping that last bit on, and I trusted her enough to take it off in order to help her stop hurting.

And then she stabbed me right in the heart. Right when I least suspected it.

betrayal.gif

Et tu, Brutus?

When I already had all these other pains to deal with, and when I went out of my comfort zone to help her at my own risk, while we embraced, while I was exposed and vulnerable, someone I trusted shoved a knife into my back.

The pain from the knife was horrible, but I could deal with that. It was a close call, but I knew that would heal.

What was what was really hurting me was that feeling of having my trust broken, that feeling of being mislead, that feeling of being fooled.

And even that, I could deal with, if I could just understand why she’d acted that way.

stab.gif

But why?

It just didn’t make any sense.

Feelings

So after all those years of blocking feelings this was a very intense way to be introduced to actually feeling the bad feelings that we all have to deal with from time to time.

I had already attempted to revert to my “just don’t feel it” approach but it was too late. The feelings were already out of the box and there was no way they were going back in that box.

freaked.gif

It’s a shame y’know, when you’re reacting to feelings, it’s so much harder to catch them and react to them appropriately. You want more than ever to be rational about everything and not react in the wrong way, but you’re too busy reacting in the wrong way to do so.

Or at least, that’s what it was like for me. And for me, the wrong way to react was to drink the majority of a bottle of Absinthe to try and dull the pain.

drunky.gif

Clearly that hadn’t worked out too well.

No sick days. Ever.

I mentioned that my hangover lasted a week. I felt like death warmed up that whole week, minus the warmed up part.

smashed.gif

Nonetheless I refused to miss a day of work.

At that point I’d worked at Everlong about two and a half years and had never taken a sick day. That’s just something I was taught growing up, it doesn’t matter how sick you feel, you push through it. It wasn’t just talk either, I would be sent to school no matter how sick I was, which is of course a bad idea for the other kids because everyone else sick too, but all that experience made me sturdy enough to push through the hangover from hell and keep my record of no sick days intact.

Speaking of what I went through growing up, and that skill I’d developed to block out feelings, that’s all going to become important to this story, so I’m going to give you all an in depth look into the back story of your narrator in the next origins post.

And then we’ll get back to Rene and that newcomer Mia I mentioned was about to join the mix.

 

The Queen of Queef

11 Aug

I’m not saying she’s a crazy bitch but chances are a lot of other people would think so…

Then again, if your life’s goal involves a queefs scoreboard and a microphone pressed against your birth canal, who am I to judge? Just be aware that you might not be as revered as you hope.

Crazy bitch tip: Dedication to a skill is generally a good thing, but be sure that skill is useful.

 

Who should pay on a date?

19 Jun

The question “Who should pay on a date?” comes up often. I listen to a few podcasts from New York and I hear a lot of the female guests talking about how they’ll go out on dates with guys they have no interest in whatsoever just to get a free meal and some drinks. That’s some stupid shit right there. Not to say that you shouldn’t let someone pay for your night out but don’t let that be the only reason you’re going out with them.

To trade your time for ‘treats’ is pretty gross. A lot of the women I’ve heard telling these stories later explain that they hook up with the guys as a sort of trade-off, sometimes even going to the extent of sleeping with them. One of these girls started her story off by saying how creepy and gross and old the guy who took her out was, and how she only went out with him because he offered to take her to a really ritzy restaurant; but by the end of the story she’s back at his place giving him head! She had absolutely no interest in the guy and  no intention of seeing him again, but then he offered to take her to another nice restaurant and, what do you know… she agreed!

That’s! fucking! crazy!

I’m not a fan of the “how to attract/catch/get/trap/capture/cage-up the [person] of your dreams” things, but I saw this particular explanation come up on Reddit about who should pay on dates, and I think the point this bloke makes is excellent.

“Treat the guy you’re interested in as well as you’d treat your best friend.” Now that’s some damned good advice, right there.

And how’s that chick’s form? “I’ve been seeing a guy for 5 months and he’s starting to suggest that I contribute to the cost of dinner when we go out!” Yeah, NO SHIT! because it’s fucking mental that you’ve been involved with someone for 5 months and haven’t paid for a single dinner!

Holy mother of crap! I cannot understand where people get these ideas from. Even if you’re going out with a billionaire you should still buy a round of drinks or whatever from time to time. It’s just courtesy!

So who pays on a date? The human beings that consumed the meal. If someone offers to cover the whole bill themselves you should at least offer to cover your share anyway, and if they refuse you should appreciate the fact that someone was so happy to spend time with you that they willingly paid their hard-earned money to treat you to a meal.

Crazy bitch tip: At least offer to pay your share.

If you are reading this you are too close

30 May

Happy birthday, Callum.

Origins #25

26 May

Rene had sent through what effectively translated to “It’s not gonna happen. Leave me alone.”

I had conceded that I was out of options and that all I could do now was grit my teeth and try to get through a shitload of unexpected feelings while trying to cope with all the other shit I had going on.

Stress proof

People often get the impression that I’m unaffected by what’s happening in my life. My former manager Mike Monarch, once told me:

 “Nothing ever rattles you. You just keep going no matter what’s happening. It’s like you’re stress proof.”

I’d received many similar comments over the years. I appreciate that people saw me that way, but I had never thought it to be true. Things affect me just as badly as anyone else, but things still need to get done when you’re doing it rough, so I try to carry on and not react, which I suppose looks the same as not being affected.

ectqp

That’s the only way I knew to do things, so that’s what I was going to do.

Everyone’s a comedian

In the following week I tried to hunker down. I tried to distract myself. I tried to not feel anything by doing anything and everything else I could think of.

It wasn’t working.

Having had Rene demand I ask her out and then reject me with practically no explanation was hard enough, but everyone at work was still hassling me with jokes and teasing about her having stayed at my place. I tell you what, after the 47th “How’s Rene?” of the day, my patience would wear thin.

ok-fine

But I couldn’t snap at them because no one was allowed to know that we had hooked up, or that she had demanded I ask her out, or that she then told me we couldn’t go out, and that left me completely head-fucked. All they knew was it was fun to make jokes.

What’s reality got to do with it?

On top of that, the standard hassles from my manager Gus continued:

“I need this project finished tomorrow and this other project finished by Tuesday, and this is a new project that I want done by the end of the week and I need you to show Larry how to write the XML for those other projects, and there’s a bug causing the system to show the wrong name on the third page of the sign-up and that also affects the back-end in the participant surname somehow, I need that resolved immediately.” – Gus

“Listen, Gus, I’ve asked you to put things like this into an email because there’s no way I’ll remember all that. Also, there’s no way I can get that first project and second project done in less than a month, so there’s no way I can achieve those deadlines, let alone do all the other stuff you just listed.” – Me

“I thought you were supposed to be a good developer. A good developer would be able to keep up. Stop being so negative. Just get it done.” – Gus

“I’ll do as much as I can but I’m telling you right now, no one could get all that work done in such a short period of time.” – Me

“Stop wasting time arguing about it. Just do it.” – Gus

Gus always asked for the impossible. Even at my best I could never keep up with his nonsensical theories on how much work could be done in an hour, let alone a week.

do-it

I was doing my best not to think about Rene, but I’d run into her sister, or cop another joke about her, or see her name on a file, and I’d get distracted thinking about it. So not only was it already impossible to keep up with Gus’ ridiculous demands, I wasn’t even running on all 8 cylinders.

Cat, please exit bag

I’d nearly made it through another week but I didn’t think I could cope much longer.

After work I received a phone call from a former Everlong colleague, Bea. Bea had worked admin at Everlong for 7 years before quitting in frustration that they wouldn’t give her a shot in marketing. Bea had moved on not long after Gus had started, so she knew all about his bullshit, and she knew Rene fairly well too.

Bea and I had gotten really close in the time we worked together and I was stoked to hear from her. She told me how well she was doing in her new marketing job and how her manager there was praising her performance.

And then she told me she’d heard a rumour about me and Rene from some of the girls she used to work with.

I wasn’t sure how to handle it. I trusted Bea and desperately wanted to talk about the situation, but I’d promised not to. I asked her what she’d heard. She said that everyone was sure I was a total player and I’d had a one night stand with Rene and that’s why Tim Everlong was furious at me.

I told Bea that I’d tell her the truth, on the proviso that she not tell anyone else, and that nobody else knew anything, so if the word got out, I’d know she was the one who told. I made her promise.

dktpnky

I sat there at my kitchen counter in my shitty little apartment and told her exactly what had happened. The cool evening breeze rushed over me, hurrying its way between the open balcony door and the open front door as I relayed the tale.

Bea asked all the questions I’d been asking. All I could tell her was that I didn’t know why Rene had acted the way she had, or what was going to happen from there on out.

Two bags, one cat

As I hopped up to get a drink I turned and faced the open front door. There was Larry from work.

cat

He stammered out,

H-h-h-hey, are w-w-we still hang-hang-hanging out to-tonight?

I’d completely forgotten I’d made plans to watch The Jersey Shore with him that night. I had no idea how long he’d been standing there. I told Bea I had to go, hung up, and told Larry to come in.

He was flustered. Larry is the sort of guy who is flustered a lot anyway, but this was more than he standard jitter. He was properly nervous. He’d heard something that clued him into what had happened between me and Rene and he was clearly stressed out by that.

I asked him straight up, “What did you hear?”
“Nothing… I… didn’t… didn’t. Nothing. Nothing at all.”, he said, visibly shaking.

I told him it was ok. It wasn’t his fault he overheard.

Larry’s the sort of bloke that loves a bit of gossip and I knew he’d keep my secret because he thought I was some sort of superhero because I could talk to women without making it awkward. Oh, how wrong he was, hey?

Unlucky Larry

I went through and told Larry the whole ordeal. There was a lot of “what are you going to do?”, “What about Tim? Do you think he’ll fire you?”, “what about…”

nervous

I explained my plan to cop it on the chin and not let it affect me. I told him I was happy he knew because I’d been unable to talk about it until then, and I thought having someone who knew everyone involved and could see it from a less stressed-out perspective would help.

We yapped about it for hours while the queued episodes the Jersey Shore dribbled by with stories of drama that felt disturbingly relatable. Eventually Larry called it a night and I was left to deal with knowing that I’d  broken my promise.

r2qfh

I had very much needed to talk about it, but Larry probably wasn’t the right guy for the job. I’d become good friends with Larry and valued his opinion on things, but he was a very nervous guy and a lot of the points he had raised were the opposite of calming. Whatever I’d gained by letting the truth out, I’d lost to the new concerns Larry raised.

Denial will do the trick

Fucking drama. All that effort to avoid it and it had still found a way to detonate itself all over me. I was caked in it and there was sweet fuck all I could do about it. Except of course, to pretend it wasn’t happening.

no-prob

It was a foolproof plan. And it worked, for all of a day, that being the next day at work, but it was a Friday and maybe the glimmer of the weekend ahead had more to do with me getting through it than the THERE IS DEFINITELY NOTHING WRONG attitude I’d taken on.

im-fine

I’d gotten very quiet. I got through the usual Friday night after work drinks session almost completely silently by focussing mostly on stuffing my face with food and pouring beer in my mouth between bites. It was not an elegant solution, but it was working.

Before I left for the night, Larry reminded me that he was having a party at his place that Saturday.

What’s that, little fairy? You can help?

I spent the rest of that night and most of the following day in bed. I don’t think I slept at all. I remember staring little holes into my ceiling. I remember looking at my phone wondering when I would actually sleep. I remember not wanting to go to Larry’s party.

See, Australia’s greatest motorsport event, Bathurst was on the next day, and I always get up early to watch that, usually about 5:30am.

13e5146gnptdww

But I had to go, because Larry didn’t have much luck with people showing up to his parties. There was a very real possibility that if I didn’t go, he might end up with nobody there at all. Plus, Larry’s place was barely two blocks away from mine so I really had no excuse.

I was happy to see that other people had showed up. The core group of the guys from work were already there when I arrived, which was great because they were all good for a laugh, and a laugh was exactly what I was in need of. Well, any distraction really, and therein lay the problem because there was a partygoer there I hadn’t anticipated… a little green fairy.

IMG_3320

Larry had heard my stories about enjoying the very fancy ritual of having an Absinthe and decided to buy an entire bottle of the most aggressive, high alcohol content Absinthe he could find.

Larry offered me some. I accepted. He couldn’t finish his and offered it to me. I accepted. His sister couldn’t finish hers, so she offered it to me. I accepted.

shots

It turned out very few attendees were willing to ignore the face-kicking nature of this super-charged Absinthe to get to its ever-so-pleasant mind numbing effects. But I was willing.

damn-good-stuff

I was very willing.

And as the bottle emptied, so did my mind.

I didn’t have any problems.

Everything was fine.

The more Absinthe I drank, the less static I could hear.

My mind was getting quiet.

All my thoughts were drifting away.

I was breaking free.

wine

What’s your poison?

I don’t remember anything after the third full glass of Absinthe I consumed. That little green fairy had deceived me. She wasn’t calming me down. She was trying to drown me. She was trying to poison me. She was trying to suck me into the darkness forever. She was trying to kill me.

I drank roughly 3/4 of that bottle of Absinthe and I’m fairly certain I gave myself alcohol poisoning in the process.

giphy1

The rest of this I only know based on what people later told me, or the evidence I discovered for myself…

Larry was so worried about me that he had someone drive me the two or so blocks home. Despite the short distance, I managed to vomit in their car, the first of several times for the evening.

grgl

 

I always loop my key chain around my belt loop to ensure I never lose them, but I had forgotten that somehow, and after I opened the front door to my shitty little apartment I apparently walked straight on with the key still in the lock, and fell face first when the slack of the chain came tight.

wasted

Based on the evidence I found, instead of taking the now bent key out of the lock, I kicked my shoes off and climbed out of my jeans. Then I crawled onwards, leaving the front door wide open. My key left in the lock, with my jeans dangling off it via the chain.

No joke

I know this all sounds silly and funny now, but I’m not kidding around when I mentioned alcohol poisoning. I’ve drunk a LOT in my time. I’ve woken up with the sort of hangover that left me promising to never drink again, and then done that again the next day. I’ve been unable to get out of bed from Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon, but I have never, ever felt anywhere near as bad as I did the morning after all that Absinthe.

That was the only time I have ever been worried I wouldn’t survive.

frg

To put it into perspective a light hangover lasts a morning, a regular hangover lasts a day, and a severe hangover lasts a weekend. It took me more than a week to recover from this one.

iz1b1i

I felt how this looks

I was physically, mentally, and emotionally destroyed.

So much for denial.

Full circle

And with that, we’re now back to Origins #1.

That’s not the end of the story. The drama only escalates from here. Things get more insane with Rene, and I’ll introduce you to Mia, who makes Rene appear rational by comparison. Dear lord, what a life I’ve lived.

Seeya next time.

%d bloggers like this: