I’m riding a roller coaster and it’s making my head spin…

No quote to begin with today. Quite frankly…I can’t bring myself to go searching. What is it with life and its lack of warning before it smacks your knee caps out from beneath you? Seriously…a little heads-up would suit me just fine. At least that would allow me to brace for the fall, or perhaps cart a first aid kit of ice-cream, cake and wine with me, for when things turn severely pear-shaped.

At the moment I have ‘Why-Me?’ syndrome. I’m sure you’ve all experienced it at some point in time.

Here I am trying take control of my life, get my head space back to a place where I don’t feel like I’m always on the brink, and another tummy turning bend, big or small, throttles me.

“Really…you’re telling me I got the wrong time and date for the appointment? I just drove an hour to get here!”

“Seriously…you’re telling me I’m surplus to your employee requirements! But I’m trying to pay off a housing loan!”

“Yes…I’ll be late. I have to hitch up my skirt and kneel in the gutter to change a flat tyre! Lucky me!”

“Holy shit…my thirteen year old has her first BOYFRIEND! And…his family is filthy rich and that makes me feel inferior and unsuccessful, which of course makes me self-involved and moderately mental for making this all about me.”

Bottom line, I feel like I’ve lost my way and I need someone to shake me and say “You see that little brick path over there. Yes, the super straight, no fuss, no drama, path! That’s the path you need to take. You’ll be sublimely happy and successful going that way.” I know where I want to go, but I don’t know how to get there. My GPS battery must be dead.

Unfortunately, when humans were given the gift of being able to ‘choose’ and ‘make choices’, we were not also given a road map plotting our most successful and logical path. Nor were we given a road map leading us towards sublime happiness.

But, so often I just want to slap myself for being so selfish. My idea of what trauma looks and feels like is plain nonsense in comparison to what some people experience. Yes, I’ve had a hellish couple of months, and yes I still feel a little residual uselessness because of that, but I have so much to be thankful for too.

I know these things for sure:
1. My daughter is my muse, she makes me laugh so hard I expect my sides to split. She validates my dreams and makes them feel possible and less ludicrous. She radiates happy, and that’s catchy; worth bottling.

2. I am proud to say my daughter is my most outstanding achievement. She has a brilliant and mature mind, is a phenomenal dancer, and is so sweet hearted and playful, too. These are not my victories to claim, they are her own. But I help her feel loved. I help her laugh and smile and face challenges with an iron will. And…I help her feel safe. These are my achievements and victories to claim.

3. My mother is the reason I regain my equilibrium; her to-the-point and spot-on advice is life-changing.

4. I experience a drastic loss of identity if I’m not chin deep in a writing project. A dancer has a stage. A musician has a concert hall. A director has a sound stage. And I have my screen and keys or an empty page to craft my prose. My creative space is where personal identity and passion have no choice but to grow.

5. I’m an excellent school teacher. I don’t always believe this, but I need to.

And…

6. The universe both wraps me in happiness and tears me apart, limb by limb. And…it will always be this way.

My principal (I’m a primary teacher), said “Take control! You’ll be great!” Is this even possible when I’m unravelling like a spool of thread? Yes I can…the child inside me craves greatness. I’m not going to model mediocrity for my daughter. I’m not going to teach her to give in when things get rough.

In spite of the roller coaster I seem to always be riding, I shall find hope in my muse, and if necessary, I will write until my fingertips callous over, because I am a writer. I need to write. I want to write. And, I have to believe my future is paved with words. And because of this, I’ve finally taken the gigantic and terrifying step of enrolling in a writing course at one of Australia’s most prestigious arts school. Fear won’t cripple me…but it’s trying bloody hard, too.

Think positive,
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The Journey Begins

“It always seems impossible until it is done.” Nelson Mandela

Ever feel grossly out of your comfort zone, like you’re trying to breathe with a mouth full of cotton wool? Yes. That was me, recently. My world fell apart. Here I was thinking, ‘great…my life is on track’. I have a house to raise my daughter in, I’ve got a regular, high-flying and ‘permanent’ income trickling in. I could finally stand back and say, “I’m in a good place. I’ve done well, here.”

Not so! Nothing is permanent, so it seems. About a millisecond after my ‘happy’ and ‘contented’ thoughts started taking up residence in the shadowy and quite recesses of my brain, everything fell apart. Boom…just like that, I have no job. And for me, my job anchored any feelings of success. A little bit of wisdom I learned the hard way, ‘take nothing for granted’. I know, so cliché. But what I didn’t expect, was that, you can be an expendable element in the employment food chain, even if you are brilliant at your job. Anyone can be ‘surplus to requirement’ at any time.

A dim thought, I know, but this realisation bought me to another. I had no back-up plan. For a mum, this is unacceptable. I hadn’t actively cultivated the fullest life for myself. My career and mothering was everything to me. But when my job fell through, for a while I felt that I had failed in all areas of my life. My hair started falling out or breaking off in little brittle tufts, my finger nails and toenails hardened and began chipping and bleeding. I started having blood-ridden, traumatic dreams that had me tossing and turning or unable to sleep, one of which involved all my teeth falling out whilst my gums gushed with neon red blood. Fairly gruesome. Paranoia, anxiety, anger, frustration, and bouts of depression and feelings of utter helplessness set it, and for a long time I was useless and nothing could redirect my downward spiral.

Even though I’m still not who I was before all this, I’m able to look back. I was lucky. I had one stable thing to grasp; my family and my family-like friends. Without them surrounding me, building a mini-metaphorical fortress between me and the flood of trauma, I’d undoubtedly have lost my mind permanently, and not very gracefully, I dare say. A new friend, but a good friend, urged me to write in a journal each day. She said, “Just get it all out, spill all that f###### stuff out on a page, and say screw it”. She is a very unique character my friend M, and she was right on the money. At first the journal didn’t help. I was too devastated and teary to write, but then I started finding new ways to fill in my sudden surplus of time. I wrote my journal entries, most of which are unashamedly unsophisticated and foul, but are true and accurate accounts of how I was feeling and how unjust I felt the circumstances were.

The journal became necessary for the survival of my mental health. But I also picked up old, dusty writing projects I never had the time to finish. I just started writing. Play scripts and TV series pilots, the beginnings of a teen novel, song lyrics. Anything. I even explored Microsoft Movie Maker to see how easy turning a static piece of prose into film, would be. My mind started to run wild in a way I hadn’t experienced since university. New characters and concepts were suddenly forcing themselves upon me, and I had to listen. I wrote and wrote and wrote. And after finding it so hard to muster even a small smile, for such a long time, my body and mind were finally starting to loosen up and relax. Because of my beautiful family and friends, and because of my writing, I rediscovered my smile and along with it, a new sense of appreciation for being playful, relaxing and for loving and appreciating myself.

So this is how I rediscovered myself through my writing. Writing gave me hope. Writing was something I had always loved, and I had been told that I was good at. I even studied creative writing at university, but then pursued a profoundly different career. This whole mess, helped me realise that I can’t be true to myself and to the ‘me’ that I want to be, if I’m not embracing my need to write. I realised that I needed to show more respect this side of myself, instead of forcing such a significant part of myself, aside, like it never matter. Hopefully, embracing ‘all’ of me, not just the career-orientated and mothering me, becomes a recipe for happiness that will lead to a broad sense of self-fulfilment.

I have much to learn about the craft, but it’s time to get serious about my writing.
Let the journey begin,
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