"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Friday, February 26, 2016


Now Playing: Recover by Chvrches (and if I recover will you be my comfort, or it can be over, or we can just leave it here)

I had the most horrifying dream last night, and it was horrifying because, in some ways, it was real.

(I very rarely dream, and when I do, they're almost always lucid dreams)

The gist of it, because I know accounts of other people's dreams are boring, is that I had agreed to meet someone at a certain place to do a certain thing, and they weren't there, and I couldn't contact them, and even though in the moment I knew it was just a dream I still could feel the panic rising in my chest until I could taste it in the back of my throat.

I woke up with a nosebleed, which was scary.

This may sound..,stupid, but I am deathly afraid of waiting. The kind of waiting where you're alone, in a public place, or you're with a group of people and they all know you're expecting someone to show. The kind of waiting that stretches to an uncomfortable period of time, with no message or apology or heads up about traffic or broken down cars or whatever. Just endless, endless uncertainty.

I have anxiety, and my anxiety stems largely from my abusive relationship and yes, my abuser was in the habit of doing this to me, a lot. I remember distinctly begging him to just send me a quick message that he was going to be late and I would happily wait for any amount of time, but every time he point blank refused. I was crazy. I was always so demanding and neurotic. I genuinely thought I was being a terrible, selfish person for asking him to send, like, a three word text every time he was like an hour late, which was 90% of the time.

I am not any more or less impatient than any other person; and I'm not particularly picky about weird social etiquette; if anything, I am in the annoying habit of sometimes being a little too easygoing. But I don't think it's too much to ask of people to send a heads up to someone they claim to care about who is waiting and waiting and waiting, on the verge of a panic attack - I have more than once burst into tears waiting for people.

I'm getting better at insisting on being treated like an actual human being, but to this day I still can't get people to not fucking do that, and I really don't understand the lack of kindness or care that can justify it. I think we have romanticized mental illness so much, especially young women with mental illness, that when the inconvenient things about mental illness arise - like having your sanity hinging on a text from someone who claims to care about you - people don't want to know. And I'm still not great at navigating and validating my own feelings, to insist that what I feel is valid and that my safety is important because a long time ago, in my younger and more vulnerable years, someone I cared about who claimed to care about me convinced me that standing up for myself was colossally self-obsessed. And that is a difficult bone to break.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

breaking broken bones

Now Playing: Breathe by Taylor Swift ft. Colbie Callait (never a clean break, no one here to save me)

I've been thinking a lot lately about how sometimes, when a broken bone sets wrong, you have to break it again to set it properly.

I've never been great at goodbyes. As much as I get bored and restless and unsatisfied I'm always scared of leaving, of moving on, of having my normal shift into something different and unfamiliar. It feels, to me, as painful and as unnatural as breaking bones. But sometimes you just have to.

The first time I thought about this was towards the end of my abusive relationship, when I knew something was wrong but I was too afraid to leave. I wasn't happy, but I wore the familiarity of my situation like a blanket. To leave was to break away from something and someone who was hugely important to me. I was a wreck when we met, and then I praised his kindness for putting me back together, but my 'together' was crooked and awkward and never quite worked out well for me. When he left he broke me again. But now I walk on my own two feet.

Leaving home was breaking more bones. I wasn't happy in Perth, I had never been happy in Perth, and I knew I would never be happy in Perth - especially as my university began to close up shop, when walking in to class every day meant being told, repeatedly, to my face, that I had no future. I spent my entire undergrad being perpetually mocked and ridiculed for my studies, for what was important to me, and as soon as I could feel the thin ice of uni start to crack underneath me, I started applying to leave without a second thought. I never thought I would look back, really, but in the end I did. My life in Perth was dysfunctional and my career opportunities were bleak, but it was home. It was comforting. And when you know things will never be the same again, even if that 'same' isn't so great...I feel like the natural instinct is to try and keep things the way things are. Leaving wasn't euphoric or freeing; it was scary and it felt profoundly wrong.

I haven't moved to Utopia; there are things here that are wrong and stupid and profoundly weird, just like in any other place. But the community of thinkers and dreamers and believers here is something that I've never experienced before; people who are generous with their time and knowledge. You don't feel like you're living on borrowed time or at the whim of politicians and money-strapped bureaucrats who take one look at you and think 'why are we giving you this dangerous, useless knowledge?'. When you are a queer mixed-heritage woman of colour, a sense of legitimacy is always craved but hardly ever found but maybe I have found some here.

I have good days and bad days. I swing, like Sylvia Plath, between 'joyous positive and despairing negative'. But I always think of how much I had been forced to hobble through Perth. The pain of breaking broken bones is nothing compared to the prospect of limping through life. Broken bones heal. Soon I will fly.

Friday, February 19, 2016

electrical staplers & blue neighbourhoods

Now Playing: Sad Beautiful Tragic by Taylor Swift (we wake in lonely beds in different cities)

I live in Canberra, now, which I'm still having trouble wrapping my head around.

I'm doing Honours in Gender, Sexuality & Culture at the Australian National University, which is not something I thought I would be doing this time last year, but at the same time, I feel like I've been working my whole life to get here.

Moving and growing up and chasing your dreams is not quite as euphoric as they make it out to be in the movies.

I have never liked Perth; it felt suffocating and limited and painfully banal. But living in Perth taught me how to love the little things in life, to find happiness in things that are thoroughly unextraordinary. I learned to love flawed places and have flawed relationships with flawed people and I'm grateful for that.

Living at home was comforting. It was safe. It was that sigh of relief when you got home, took your shoes off, and poured yourself a cold drink. I never valued familiarity more than in my last six weeks at home, in the fresh beachy breeze that I still miss. I miss the city lights and the cold midnight air at King's Park. And I grew really attached, you know, in the last hurrah in my blue neighbourhood. But in the end, in spite of those homey comforts and suburban pleasures, Perth never fails to fail you.

I live alone in my own little place, now, and I can sometimes feel sleeping demons stir, and come out to play. It is difficult to motivate myself to keep on keeping on, sometimes; to push myself not just in academics, but in becoming a healthier and happier person in spite of the people I have left behind. Living by yourself makes you think about love, and longing, and belonging; I've really been pushing myself into practicing self-care, which is a challenge in itself, but I'm getting there. When you miss home it's easy to feel like you belonged somewhere or to someone, but emotions run high when big, stressful changes happen and I think you just have to be gentle with yourself. There will be times when you know one of your friends is sick and you find yourself crying into a pillow 3000 kilometres away from them not just because you can't help them, but because their pain has become as unbearable as your own; and I'll never hold that against anyone. But there are kinds of pain that I will hold you to account for. I think sometimes when someone hurts you, or their absence hurts you, you can start to imagine them as less than human, with less than human feelings; when you take someone you cared for and start treating them like a toy. I don't think there is anything I can't endure, but I'm starting to teach myself that there are some things I shouldn't endure.

I have spent...I don't know, a solid decade swearing at staplers. I just don't have the upper body strength to push a piece of metal through more than about two pieces of paper, and staplers in Perth are a particularly odious beast - difficult to come by, easy to break, constantly demanding refills. Well, my friends, I've moved to a place with electrical staplers - click, click, boom. And that's what moving is about; it's about accepting and embracing both the freedom and the loneliness of living on your own. It's about wondering if you have cooked the chicken properly, and if you haven't, if said chicken is going to kill you. And sometimes it's about closing a few doors because you know, in your heart, they will lead nowhere. But it's also about realizing that there are electrical staplers in this world, and your life is better for knowing about their existence. It encourages hope.