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Posts Tagged ‘australia’

When I crash, it’s like this leaching hole of nothingness, and then frantic manic activity while I try to claw my way out. It’s cigarettes and beer and sedatives and sex. It’s sneaky and insidious and before I know it, I don’t want to get out of bed, the horses’ shoes are falling off and I don’t know what we’re going to have for dinner again. So much of this is internal, and well-hidden, but it’s seeping out, and people are actually noticing. I can’t hide behind ‘treatment’, or ‘just tired’ anymore, and I don’t want to be like this. No-one believes I’m mentally ill, just traumatised, but when does one melt into the other? Where is this blurred line?

Recovery is yoga, vegetarianism and writing. It’s light and warmth, friends and work. Quiet productivity. I just, I can’t keep this cycle going. I can’t get out of it either. It hurts. I got through cancer and separation and abuse and judgement, but this is fucking my life up. It doesn’t feel fair. Like I’ve said before, there’s no balance, there’s no ‘go through hell now and then things will level out’ trade-off.

I know I could do well at life, on my terms, if I could get out of this. When I’m well, I’m dynamic, I get shit done, I’m bright. When I’m not ok, I systematically destroy that, like knocking down sandcastles at the beach. I fought SO HARD for what we have. I took on someone I love when I wanted to just give in, and say ‘you know what? Have the house. Fucking burn it down’. I fought myself and I fought him. I sold things and took out loans and I neglected myself so my son wouldn’t have to see any more pain.

On the surface, it was worth it.

Dig a little deeper, maybe not.

I love this. When I get what I want, I never want it again.

Ash x

ps – if you like me – #cometothepartycourtneylove I have a significant birthday coming up and I can live in hope ūüėČ

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Being single has blown me wide open. A couple of years ago I could never have imagined myself being deliberately, consciously alone, craving that time with myself rather than just as a default, in-between state. My relationships have gotten deeper, including with my son, as we’ve adjusted to life being how it is; feeling full instead of that man shaped space next to me.

It makes me smile when my friends and family crack one liners like ‘someone needs to make an honest woman out of you’, ‘you’re hell on men’, and the ever-popular ‘I can understand you being a commitment-phobe now, after everything’. I’m not alone. I’m not commitment phobic. I’m committed to my friends and my son and my life but mostly I’m committed to myself, and there’s something special about that. It makes me laugh when well-meaning relatives click their tongues and sympathise, ‘the right one will come along when you’re not looking for him’.

Maybe he will, and maybe he won’t. and I’ll be whole either way. I haven’t had an actual date in probably a year and occasionally I’d like to go on one, but then I just do something nice for myself instead. I have a market stall with my best friend now, and I love meeting people and getting to know customers – people reveal so much about themselves when there’s no expectations and no formality. It’s so cool, all these quirky amazing people from all walks of life. I love it.

I’m getting along better with Bailey’s dad, we’re not quite friends, but we’re communicating effectively. I want good things for him. We’re not looking like dragging each other through court now, and I know we could get into a massive argument tomorrow, throw goodwill out the window and try to destroy each other, but I don’t think it will happen. This feels like a genuine shift. I stood up for myself – without shouting, arguing or attacking. And it worked, I think. He can’t walk all over me and he respects me as the parent who sticks by Bailey no matter what, who finds solutions and doesn’t make him into someone he’s not. I respect him as Bailey’s father who loves him, and I leave them to their relationship, even though it’s not my ideal. That letting go is hard, but it has to happen, and I do it again and again.

There’s this sense of freedom and possibility that has come with being single for me, once I got through the (horrific, gut-wrenching, sickness inducing) pain of separation, that is. I’ve been able to get to know myself, be authentic and uncompromising. I think our education system would put my son through pain, so I pulled him out and he stays home. I lived at the beach for a year because I felt like it. I came back because I thought it was our best option. I sell hemp products because I believe that’s important. I didn’t have to debate with anyone about those decisions. I didn’t have to consider anyone’s feelings except mine and my now 7 year old son’s.

I’m not shunning the idea of a relationship, but I’m loving where I’m at, especially after how long it took me to get here. This has been the hardest, most worthwhile work of my life. When I have a bad day, I know it’s just a day, and I don’t need anyone to fix it for me. I had never experienced being able to soothe myself. I’ve always been with someone or pining over someone or had a fall-back person. This whole ‘love yourself and life is not bullshit’ thing actually holds some credibility, who knew?

Sunsets are just as beautiful alone.

Ash xx

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Oh Internet, how I love you. You have made it so easy for me to meet like minded people, make friends, discover a support group. I’ve also enjoyed an endless stream of cat photos, fails, and the quiet brilliance that is PostSecret. I’ve reconnected with friends and family, googled everything in existence, and have recently connected you to my Foxtel and Apple TV.

Let’s not get started on YouTube.

On the flipside, I feel like I’m letting this ruin my brain. I literally cannot focus long enough to read a chapter in an actual book, with pages and ink. I facebook while I’m working the horses, that’s if I get out there in the first place. By the time I’ve written this, I probably will have had five facebook conversations and checked my newsfeed countless times, lest I miss some self help article that I will never put into actual practice, or the daily musings of a boy I kissed on the last day of Yr 9, and never saw again.

The times when I’ve felt the most ‘whole’ have never been when I’ve been sitting in front of my laptop, various tabs open to social networking sites. They’ve been when I was 18 and ran every day even though I’d always hated it. When I was 15 and would ride exercise work on racehorses just trot trot trot for kilometres on end and they find their stride and you find yours and sometimes it starts to feel like magic. Dare I say it, one of the first times I smoked weed with an ex and we laid in his Dad’s recording room with carpet all up the walls and Fleetwood Mac on the record player and we felt every instrument.

Now I don’t even watch a fucking movie without my iPhone. I can’t follow a teen TV series’ storyline. It’s getting ridiculous. I’m nearly 30 and have wasted so many opportunities, spent so much time just killing boredom when I could have been learning or writing or being productive or I don’t know, having conversations and focusing on who I’m with or actually tasting what I’m absentmindedly cramming into my mouth.

I’m at the point where I’m actually going to start giving myself a schedule to tell me what I should actually be filling time with. This doesn’t fit in with my personality at all, but yeah. I’m sick of being so passive. I’m sick of saying I ‘don’t have time’ to finish my novel, ride my horse, paint my room, decorate my soul.

Can anyone relate?

Ashx

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So I’ve been trundling along, pretty well actually, with the odd ‘moment’ either way – deep sadness but then the most beautiful purely happy and content pieces of time too. I’ve been writing something, in little patches, and I generally have no confidence in anything I do, but this is good, I know it is.

I don’t even know who I’m writing to, if anyone reads here anymore. It’s been a long time. I love writing. But I’ve poured out so much pain here that for awhile I couldn’t even think about it, couldn’t come back. I’d try and feel that sucking feeling in my chest, so I just scribbled on bits of paper. A few times I used my finger and pretended to write the squirming feelings out on the wall, couch, car door, where ever I was. And you know what happened? I became present in my life, and proactive instead of reactive, always on the defence. I stopped giving a shit what my neighbours and the shop guy and the people who dropped me when I got sick and freaked out think of me, and I started focusing on what the people who love me think of me. And most of all, what I think of me.

Between homeschooling Bailey and leaving mainstream cancer treatment I copped so much criticism I simply had to stop caring. There was no other way.

The thing is, it worked. Bailey is well and happy – and kind of bratty right now, but so age appropriate and just boring normal that I could almost cry with gratitude after having to ask him for the ten billionth time to pick his crap up, use manners, be careful.

Cancer is complicated. The cynic in me feels like it’s just another industry, another way for people to make money. I baulk when I see pink ribbon products containing chemicals that have been linked to various cancers. It bothers me that ‘natural’ and ‘alternative’ remedies aren’t given the same funding and research as those owned by pharmacuetical companies. It didn’t inspire confidence, the reactions I got when I started asking questions. Questions like, where does the funding come from for this particular drug? When there are a few medications that are roughly as effective as each other, how do you decide which one to try first? Why is everything in your surgery sponsored by a drug company?

Look. I believe that most people are good. I think most Doctors want to help people. Of course they do. But I believe that the patients feelings should matter more. No one paid any attention when I questioned the range of symptoms I was having that weren’t in a any way consistent with my first diagnosis. No one has to take responsibility or be accountable for that. But when *I* actually want to do my own research, and be responsible for myself, it’s continuous phone calls, criticisms, borderline harassment and ‘duty of care’ talks.

My last lot of tests weren’t great. I’m upset. I know there’s going to be this ‘we told you so, the system is the way it is for a reason’ type attitudes. When in actual fact, I had been doing fantastically well, until it came to the point where financially I had to start choosing between my *alternative, hippy type medications and remedies* and you know, being able to eat and pay bills and take my child to his chosen sports classes and keep a roof over our heads. I sold my car, I made sacrifices, but how long can I do that for? Our ‘system’ is supposedly set up to protect people like me, who work hard for what they have and through no fault of their own end up in a rough patch. It’s why I paid fifty thousand dollars in tax in one year when I was just starting out and working hard to try to get ahead, so that if I should fall ill, our government would be able to cover my medical bills and give me enough to barely survive for any time I wouldn’t be able to work. As long as it’s the exact drug program you are prescribed that is. Too bad if it doesn’t actually work, and you want to live longer.

I mean, it’s like being punched in the chest, losing the ground beneath my feet. With every inch of my being I don’t want to end up in the mainstream treatment cycle of secondary infections and bruising and needle marks. Of hair loss and bleeding lips and 16 hour sleeps. Of course, nor do I want to sell the horses, my olllddd beat up but working car, or my house.

I don’t want my son to see me ill, ever again. I don’t want my friends and family to be upset. I don’t want to lose myself, all the pure clear ok-ness I developed coming out of so much pain and fear. I just, I can’t go back there.

So yeah. That’s where I’m at. If anyone reads this I’d love to know where you’re at too ūüôā

Ash xx

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I’m struggling, badly.

I hate writing these posts, but I hate not writing them more. I’m doing nothing with my life, I feel genuinely incapable of letting go of objects, people, and situations that I know are weighing me down. I’m fairly sure I’ve become symptomatic, some days.

I still have good days, a few in a row, and it’s them that keep me going and striving towards some kind of life. Ironically, my cancer count has continued to fall after stopping mainstream medication and there’s something that makes me think I won’t have cancer forever, that I will reach full remission. I can’t describe what that ‘something’ is but it just feels like something I know, like the sun will set tonight, a deep faith. I’m not religious, but if I was, I would¬†think¬†that God¬†is looking after me in this way, and that everything is going to be ok.

Being in the middle still sucks though. Some days I even consider sending Bailey to school, just to give myself a break, but when my brain fog clears I know we’d both be worse off. I’ve grown more and more disenchanted with our education system, and more distrustful of government systems in general – I think having so much go wrong medically, learning about treatments available elsewhere that are illegal here, seeing a close friend being treated incredibly poorly by the Education Department, having my privacy severely compromised more than once has all taken its toll. Being screwed financially over and over doesn’t help either.

It’s alienating, feeling at odds with society in general, but also strangely freeing. Not my circus, not my monkeys –¬†and all that.

I try not to write about Craig much anymore, but let’s just say he’s a letdown as a father and a human being. On the same day he told me that Bailey hasn’t been doing swimming lessons because of ‘too many bills’, he bragged about his new motorbike. It was Bailey’s birthday a couple of weekends ago and he was so slack. I have protected Bailey’s feelings more and more but unfortunately I can’t keep lying for and making excuses for him.

It’s a horrible lesson to learn that your parents aren’t who you want them to be, but unfortunately I think Bailey will have to start seeing Craig for how he is now, and that’s going to hurt both of us.

We’ll be ok though, we always are.

Ash x

 

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(again)

 

Up the hill.

Sometimes it seems like it’s either fucking cold or really fucking hot, but we have been having some in-between weather lately and I’m grateful for that. And rain. On my tin roof. Small things matter.

I live in a town that seems further than the hour, or roughly 70kms, that it stands from Perth. Our house is ‘in town’, on a few acres. It’s usually pretty quiet. We’re walking distance to the Primary School, playground, bakery, post office, real estate etc.

I like so many things about living here. Actual seasons, spring especially is amazing. Seeing hayrolls and tractors and lambs. It’s a horse-orientated area and that can be good and not so good. I have some awesome, amazing, wonderful friends. It’s low crime, people look out for each other, kids play outside and get dirty.

We have horses, dogs, chickens, a cat and a rabbit.

If someone wants to make your life hell though, it’s pretty easy to do. If you are ‘different’, people notice. Not much stays private. If you are ‘interesting’ or ‘unusual’, people will discuss your life like it’s a TV show, and then pretend they don’t know you at the next get-together.

The good outweighs the bad, usually. It turns out people are actually pretty protective of Bailey and I here, and rather than being given the cold shoulder when we came back like I half expected, most people were just glad to see that we’re ok.

Sure, people think I’m left-centre, but in a likable way I guess.

I don’t have many recent photos, and my house resembles a construction zone right now¬†anyway, but here’s a few old ones, mostly of Bailey here.

014 157 107 102 125 131 149 153 157 009 236 237 240 245

Ash x

 

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Sometimes, when I’m overwhelmed, I get in the shower, turn the water as hot as I can stand and sit at the bottom with my hands over my ears.¬† It feels like¬†I’m in another world, totally removed.

Lately it’s been a daily¬†occurrence, sitting, counting to ten, letting tears escape, rinse and repeat.

I’m starting to get used to the idea that I might not reach this ‘acceptance point’ and feel stable from then on, that it’s going to be up and down, good and not so good days mixed in with cancer counts and banana pancakes, reading eggs and nosebleeds, horses and long drives and friendship and bullshit.

This hurts, you know? It sounds so juvenile but at a base level, cancer has hurt my feelings. It’s not fair. I’m not the type of person who gets sick young. I¬†sleep with men I shouldn’t,¬†get addicted to television series, love avocado and can catch the trickiest horses.¬†¬†Bailey’s not the type of kid who has a sick single Mum. He’s homeschooled, wants to be a ninja,¬†loses his brain on sugar and likes Adventure Time.¬†I have no idea what these ‘types’ are, I just know we’re not it.

It’s ok.¬†I’m as¬†ok as I can be. There’s no point being otherwise. Last year when I realised I’d been misdiagnosed, mistreated, could have been cured I fell into a hole over it. When I had to write an ‘impact statement’ I felt like I would explode before I got it down on paper. How do you add up hours driving to specialists, whole weekends away from my infant son after radiation, relationship breakdowns, seeing my father cry, the¬†loss of a lifestyle I worked hard for? How could I even halfway articulate how it affects me to know that Bailey didn’t have to know anything about this? That if I’d been diagnosed correctly I could have been in full remission before his first birthday?

These things happen, and no-one is to blame, and that’s the truth. I’ll admit to feeling some closure after seeing¬†my first Doctor, who has no bedside manner, didn’t listen to my concerns, and downplayed independent testing I had done, avoid eye contact until I actually¬†said ‘Fuck You’.

He apologised and it sounded sincere. And I know he would have been asked not to.

*****

So now, I just get to be brave. I’m choosing less treatment in favour of a life where I can play ponies and have my son at home directing his own learning, where we can grow things and take day trips. Where there’s room for coffee, hugs, sex, novels, stargazing. Where I have to be brave enough to deal with the possibility that this won’t pay off, that I may look back and wish I’d done more mainstream treatment. Sometimes,¬†when you have a gut feeling, you have to be brave enough to go with it.

Ash x

 

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Hey guys.

I’ve been so sick. I also moved. Twice kind of. I’ve slipped back into my old life and its not awful. It needs work but its ok. I’m ok.

I’m a little fragile. There’s been some big readjustments. The time I was supposed to have ‘off’ between treatment and starting on long term medications was a major fuck up, I ended up incredibly unwell and kind of between houses and broke all at once. Thank goodness for friends and family.

Im trying really hard to be here and make things work. And I am seeing people more clearly – people care so much for Bailey and I here, and I could just never let myself feel that before.

Good days and bad days – here’s a good one –

Image

It’s starting to seem like Craig isn’t as into being a father anymore, so I have to do more and be more – but that’s an honour and a privilege.

Saw this awesome chick live the other night, at the beach under the stars – amazing.

I miss all my blog friends. I’m setting up my desk and hopefully somehow fixing my computer tomorrow, and I can’t wait to sit down and catch up on what everyone’s been up to. Or to write a real post. I suddenly have a lot to say, words rolling around that I can’t wait to let out.

Ash xx

(more…)

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Last year when I moved, I was so rushed that I was still throwing shit into boxes, onto a tarp, and into the back of my horse float, while my tenants were moving their stuff in.  Kitchen utensils mixed well with clothes, bathroom things, and stationary.

Most of that stuff is still downstairs, still in boxes.

Obviously I had planned to have a big clean out and sort it all and move back into my house (or another house) with shit totally together, physical, emotional, spiritual and financial, but clearly it hasn’t worked out that way. Part of me wants to ditch everything and start again, the other part knows that’s stupid and wasteful and I’m sure there’s some things I’ll need when I get back to reality.

I need to do so many things, instead I just sit and look at the beach.

Not to mention fucking Christmas.

Craig has started being mildly painful again, I think he senses me moving on, becoming self-sufficient and making big decisions for myself and Bailey without his input and is like ‘oh fuck’. I know I shouldn’t engage with him. But a big part of me still wants that eventual happy ending. Especially for Bailey.

It is what it is and all that.

I have to go back for now, but that doesn’t have to be permanent. The plan is, stick it out for 12 months, then see what I can work out. I want to be near the ocean, and have some space. I want to work for myself (so I’m starting a new business) and I want to do everything I can for my health. And I still want horses. Stupidly. The worthwhile things are always hard.

I guess I just wanted to give you guys a little update, but this is good for ordering things in my head too.

In health news, I’m doing ok. I’ve suddenly started having migraines, which scared the absolute crap out of me, but I went for all the relevant scans and there’s nothing new. In the last few months my body has become increasingly reactive to food, which I’ve really been struggling with so I’m thinking that this is just another reaction. Right now I seem to have reactions to wheat, dairy, meat, soy, tablets (!), liquid supplements, summer/ tropical fruits, corn, and I’m sure there’s more. I can eat bananas and feel ok. And fish. Some types.

So I’ve given in and started on meal replacements. I don’t agree with it and I never wanted Bailey to see me doing stupid diets, but I can’t keep vomiting, having cramps, carrying excess weight while being low in absolutely everything that’s testable. So far, it’s a lot better. It’s expensive, tastes awful, but worth it.

The water is so blue today. I’m going to miss this so much. Is it stupid to grieve for places that will still be here? Maybe. This house is going, and it feels like the last link to the small amount of happy childhood I had before life started to implode.

When I close my eyes here, I’m four again, at the beach. I don’t know what cancer or divorce or alcohol or sexual abuse is. My mother has come down a couple of times, and I think she is trying to forge some kind of new relationship with me separate from the truce we’ve established since I had Bailey.

She’s still hyper-critical, but I’m beginning to see that’s more about her than about me.

And I think I’m a better parent than her, arrogant I know. So does she, I can tell when she watches me with Bailey, that hint of wistfulness at what she’s missed and can never get back. It’s true what people say, they grow so quickly, and you get one shot. One.

You can’t fix a childhood, that’s something that I’ve really truly learnt this year. But you can choose to forgive, be a cycle breaker, work with the good stuff. Bailey’s childhood isn’t perfect, not by a long shot, but he’s loved and wanted, and he knows that I didn’t choose to get sick and make things difficult. And that I would never choose to leave him. The thought wouldn’t even cross his mind.

So I’m stopping beating myself over the head for things out of my control, and starting to trust that he’ll be ok with me, regardless. He might even learn some important lessons.

Ash x

 

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I grew up down here. I used to know every square inch of the place, but my God, has it ever changed. Horse paddocks are shopping centres, backyards with enough room to get lost in are a rarity, and on the weekends I practically have to fight for a quiet spot on the beach. Twenty years ago this was a haven for single mums, hippies, and old drunks. Cheap rentals, beautiful beaches and a healthy amount of marijuana smoke in the air. Most people knew each other, and everyone knew my family.

After I left, every so often when I had to pass¬†through I’d feel sick. Traffic lights, fast food, so. many. people., nothing suited here. I think it was the fastest growing region nationally for a few years running, and it shows. I guess everyone wants to live at beach, even if now that means working crazy hours to afford it.

Once Craig and I were done and dusted (the first, maybe second time) I thought I’d come down for a couple weeks over summer, see my old besties, have some space. I like to sit on the balcony in the evenings, even though it faces completely the wrong way for any kind of view. At that point in time I would have been having a cigarette (I barely smoke now – yay for me!) when I heard a voice, ‘Hey! Are you my new neighbour?’. It took me a few seconds to realise where it was coming from, and I could only see him if I kinda leaned over, and he was leaning right forward and waving sheepishly ‘Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you’.

‘Hi. No. Just here for a break.’

‘Need someone to show you around? There’s some good spots’

I laughed. ‘Nah. Thanks though. I grew up here. It’s changed a lot.’

‘You don’t look old enough to say that’

I remember biting my lip, squeezing my eyes shut as I called out ‘Wanna come up for a drink? This is weird.’

He shook my hand at the door, formal. Introduced himself. Let’s call him Matt. I’ve never had any luck with Matts. Older than what I’d thought, a couple of grey hairs in his stubble. I love stubble. Kind eyes.

He can string a sentence together, plays guitar, and has built homes in Cambodia. He tasted like beer and salt.

I would have been happy to leave it at that; that’s all I expected. But he insisted on taking me for breakfast, and showed up with flowers and chinese the same night. We talked. About most things, separation was a big theme.

Except he wasn’t totally separated.

His wife wasn’t there though, but when he started being cagey a couple weeks on, I knew something was off. It ended with him in tears, confessing that while they had spoken about separation, and his heart wasn’t in the marriage, they hadn’t *actually* separated yet.

I really liked him. And I believed him when he said he was sorry and that he didn’t expect to meet someone he connected with at that point. But I still stopped seeing him immediately, and quietly freaked out,¬†imagining how I’d feel being in his wife’s position.

Fast forward a few months until my next visit, when I noticed his house was for sale.

There was a twinge of regret in my chest, but nothing more.

When I came to live here, I just wanted to keep quiet, stay way under the radar, rest. It had only been a few days when the RSPCA came to investigate, saying my dogs had been reported as having no shade, water and that they were underweight. The complete level of confusion from the lovely guy that came out was almost comical. But when it happened twice more, plus a noise complaint to the police (I’m very quiet – but this is a party street so there’s always music from somewhere) I started feeling a little sick.

A few weeks later I was coming back from the beach at night when I hear, ‘Whore!’

‘Excuse me?’

‘You heard me’, she stated, talking loudly over her barking dog. ‘I know who you are. You were a delinquent and now you’re a home wrecker!’

I tried to apologise and explain that¬†I had no idea¬†Matt wasn’t single¬†but she wasn’t having it. The RSPCA had threatened to have her charged for making false reports, and the police said I should keep a harassment diary but mostly I just ignore her, and remember how much she’s hurting. Ok, I yelled back a few times.

I don’t mind so much – these days when she starts up I just kinda be like ‘Yeah, yeah, I’m a whore. Whatever.’ I’m sure she knows inside that I’m not responsible for her marriage. Apparently -according to another neighbour- they divorced about 6 months before I moved in, the house was for sale for a while but she ended up buying him out.

If I was her, I’d be pissed at me too.

I try to remember she doesn’t know anything about me or my life. And that making a mistake doesn’t define me.

x

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