Monday, January 31, 2011
I had to leave the first blog today as it could not logically be followed by the second part of my veg out moment yesterday. After, my son left to go to his mate's for a private wake, I sat and watched a doco I had taped. I did it because to be honest I wanted to feel good about myself by watching another person's very public downfall... as if to prove to myself that no amount of money in the world can buy happiness.
In another life, I knew this person. We both turn 55 this year and we met when we were both turning 21. There was a magnetism that drew people to this man and I was likewise attracted by it/him. I was often out and about in what I now see was my manic phase and his craziness, unpredictabilty and downright dangerous side was highly alluring. I saw something that I couldn't recognise or name at the time, but there was some sort of connection, at least on my end. A close friend years later said that 'no such connection existed and that I made it up'... but I knew and still do that there were inner demons driving us both.
At the time I realised that despite being charismatic he was actually quite despicable in his entrenched attitudes verging on the anti-social. But it was all hidden beneath a carefully constructed veneer of Mr Nice Guy, Mr Talented. The gay guys wanted to sleep with him and some (including my friend) was quite bitter about his heterosexuality, proclaiming that he wasn't promiscuous (to the point of mysogny) and that all us actresses were just fantasising about him.
Yet as they say 'in vino veritas'. When alcohol was allowed full reign (this other ignorant gay friend also proclaimed publically that this person was tea-totaller!! Rubbish!!!! I know different), some of his opinions and attitudes were positively frightening to me now as a mature-aged woman. In the seventies these attitudes were so anachronistic I chose to think he was just baiting everyone for a response and a little bit of 'drama'. How sad that I now see his beliefs expressed under the influence of grog and times of pillow talk, or when he felt at ease in his own bedroom/lounge space, he was actually letting everybody in. We did not realise that this young man was so deeply troubled.
Thus I moved on in my life and was quite happy to say to those willing to listen, "I knew him before...". I watched his meteoric rise with fascination and a sense of rejection. I was one of those women he deemed beneath contempt and not suited for marrying or breeding with (not that I wanted either at that stage). His rise to me was just party talk cred and cache. I now sit and cry over my ignorance and what has happened.
He literally deserves all the flack he is copping now. After all his money made him immune from criticism. No-one would stand up and say "NO"to this man. No-one said this was unacceptable, and his dysfunctional family (particularly father) allowed him a sense of the world is wrong and we the family know the truth... so trust no-one. Sounds so similar to a religious cult and indoctrination. Yet the demons were no assuaged. Money and privilege allowed him to self medicate with alcohol (perhaps drugs.... I have no idea as I have not met him in over 24 years) and nicotine.
He hid behind a mask of stability and family. Only when his one anchor said "enough is enough" and "I am leaving" did his world begin to disintegrate. This one woman who had sacrificed so much of her life to keeping this man in balance had finally walked away for the sake of their children.
Suddenly the demons have broken free and now I feel saddened and indeed pity. Somehow I also feel a traitor to my own beliefs. I do not condone mysogny, homophobia, rascism, anti-semitism, radical religions or right-wing political blind-spots... yet I still feel that connection with this man from all those years ago.
I sat transfixed and dispassionate as the cameras revealed the downfall of a flawed man... until the experts began speaking. I did not feel sorry for him when they spoke of his need for alcohol detox and rehab, nor admiration when learning of him reaching out to actors and singers at their times of crisis. I felt that this was simply enabling behaviour, such as the Yes-people around him permitted for over 30 years.
Then one psychiatrist came on and made the comment that she believed his behaviour was consistent with Bi-Polar Mood Disorder!
My heart is bleeding for him now. When we were both 20 we could not have known that the manic craziness was part of mental illness. We were both undiagnosed. I lived for over twenty years unaware that I was ill, until after a number of failed attempts at suicide (all designed presumably as calls for help) I was finally and correctly diagnosed and medicated.
My life had to virtually fall apart and be at rock bottom before I could accept that I was in fact ill, and would have to decide on living medicated (and muted) for life or living the risk. I still grieve for the manias and do not miss the 'black dog' yet I know it is the price to pay for the highs. Inow understand how such a man could have kept this crisis moment at bay, by being 'protected by wealth' and his destructive behaviour 'enabled' by people in whose financial interest it was to keep the commodity rolling along.
"You poor lost soul. I feel empathy now. At 55 you have to face losing almost everything before you are given the opportunity to be 'set free' by medical intervention."
"I can now see the connection I felt all those years ago, when no-body else could or would, not even you."
"See this as an opportunity. Not simply for the pseudo trendy detox and rehab stints, but the hard yards of psychotherapy and quest for wellness. I hope that you can have around you a few very trusted spirits who will accept no B/S and call it for what it is. It might mean challenging long held belief systems and your own contradictory behaviours. However, this might just free you of a damaged childhood and past, not of your making. No excuses. Your behaviour and rants cannot be undone by the words, "Sorry". They must be faced head on, with courage and strength and the willingness to pull apart all the previously accepted givens. Sometimes our families are not the safe spaces in which to do this."
"I wish you luck and one trusted friend at this time of crisis, and wish I could extend the hand of empathy and understanding across the globe... but I cannot as you are so isolated."
Hi all, I know I have been (electronically) quiet for a month or more, but I am actually okay. I have been working towards my final draft of the academic component of my PhD and as it requires me to re-read and reflect on my 'writer's journal' and occasionally my Wellness Blog entries it has beena bit of a roller coaster emotionally often dipping well into my minus scales of 'unwellness' and uni-polar depression cycles. I have had to work extremely hard at centering myself, fighting the urge to self-sabbotage (especially with food and alcohol) hence weight gain through being super-critical and losing all self-confidence. It has been a battle to regain balance and control and to work as hard and effectively as I could at my highest cognitive level to produce my best written work.
I cannot stress how critical this is as some very influential people in my career have expressed doubts about my capacity to control my illness, and one in particular hinting that I actually mobilise my illness when it suits me to ensure I do not have to place my work out for public scrutiny, thus I am wasting hers and my time (and University resources). The pressure has been on for the last few weeks as this person has taken annual leave and I am availing myslef of her absence to 'prove her wrong'.
However, this added self-imposed pressure comes at a time when (as we all know) dysfunctional families become even more dysfunctional and lash out at each other. My environment has not been, how shall I say it... conducive of optimum cognitive functioning! Yet, I am slowly getting there, slower than I had hoped but I am alive and re-instilling my sense of self-belief that the PhD is not beyond me and does not belong to a 'crazy person'. I keep feeling that I am being punished for reaching too high, beyond my social level, beyond my personal life role. This is the critic inside my head, speaking at the times when I am most vulnerable.
So it is interesting to see that when I actually went into total procrastination (thus unproductive mode), three things happened to force me to rethink, today. As usual it is the coming together of random and completely separate events that for me provide clarity and a way ahead.
Over the summer I have been playing with some of the new boys' toys in our house. I have been commandeering the T-box and Foxtel IQ when they are out and programing all the crap sitcoms ( Boston Legal etc), docos, and movies I missed at the cinema. It is my guilty pleasure to sit down on my day off (Yes I know the last thing I should be doing is sitting... like a couch potato) and having a viewing feast.
Yesterday my son had a funeral to attend in the morning and I had an appointment with my psychiatrist. Arriving home to find the house empty and mercury predicted to soar to 39, I decided that this was the perfect time to avoid working completely and do a spot of hard-disk clean up on the devices. I loved Denton's interview with Mem Fox and have at least six Book Show eps to catch up on.
then my son arrived home and recounted his experience at the funeral for the father of a golfing mate ( another older father-aged figure). My son had dismissed this man as rich, lazy and miserly without friends. And this sadly appears to be the case. So it was a shock to realise that the wealthy father's funeral was such a big event with VIPs from throughout the State and Country in attendance. My son noted that he and his ex-boss appeared to be the only ones there to support their mate, and how that made him glad he went.
I explained that this was why I had encouraged him to attend, to be there for his friend as funerals are for the grieving not the deceased. What was interesting to was hear his take on a completely traditional Church funeral service with readings, prayers, hymns and the Eucharist.
having been Christened Catholic I asked my son if he took the Eucharist and he said he felt that he couldn't. Such is his disconnect between his own spiritual upbringing and his life-experiences.
However, we were able to reflect on how having money does not in and of itself constitute gaining respect and friendship from peers and colleagues. I also noted that the funeral appeared to be very religious as the man in question was retired from one of the professions and had obviously been a Mason. My son asked how I could tell, and I said the give away was the photograph of him suited and seated in a masonic-style chair. It would of course also explain the number of attendees and the actual content of the service.
It made me stop and reflect on my own father's life and that of my brother and sole surviving male cousin, also Masons, and the underlying community involvement and need to 'give back'to society as an accepted way of life. How much of this has actually been subconsciously adopted by me? It amazed me that I hadn't realised my own compulsion to 'do good' and 'fight for just causes'.
And whilst it seems that it is of comfort, in the sense of shadenfreud, that those of us without money like to bleat the refrain, "see money can't buy happiness", it is so hollow and mean spirited. We need to be honest with ourselves. Is it that we daren't think that should our lotto ticket be drawn, none of our problems would be solved?
So what does this mean for me today... still broke and likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future. Fearful that if I do not succeed at the PhD I cannot be employed in a University and will be forced to work in jobs that do not use my intellectual capabilities... all because I have a mental illness or am perceived deviant in some way?
Why can I not harness this fear and have it drive me on, instead of it becoming a humungous oppressive weight bearing down on me, pushing me to the ground when I want to soar above the clouds?
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Well, it's that marvellous time of year again on the Mornington Peninsula when our population quadruples. I would estimate over 50% of the newcomers are transient, gathering together to afford the exhorbitant rents required for less than average homes.
Already before being forced to seek solitude for work (writing purposes) elsewhere, I have endured the usual yobbo NY Eve sirens, drunks in the streets despite public place alcohol bans, noisy car engines, sound systems, cans that seemed to find their way into my garden bed. And then one would think a family with small children moving in opposite would have been OK.... wrong. Do you realise just how noisy kids on scooters, bikes, and fathers with oversized off road vehicles (presumably in reverse proportion to existing masculine genitalia) can be? Then add to equation a boat with trailer in a street where a single car meeting another becomes a traffic jam!
Street cricket, that seemingly sedate game from days gone by, is no longer sedate, with a semblance of a twenty twenty match outside MY study door! Many balls hit into garden (no damage), lots of ruckus as ball or bat connects with large upright garbage bins and cheers of that horrid OiOiOi. Meanwhile respectable fathers, not playing, watching from sidelines with bottles of beer in hand on the public street. One can only assume the very large illuminated sign just up on the corner of our main road warning of huge fines for drinking in public spaces does not apply to THESE PARTICULAR holidaying Victorians!
So after requesting that balls not be hit onto the newest car in the household I was advised, less than politely that they had hired the house for the next two weeks and I should P... off. When I pointed out that I was merely trying to work IN MY STUDY and that I LIVED HERE... I was reminded to P.... OFF if I do not like it.
I do NOT LIKE NOISE and nor should I have to vacate annually when selfish tourists arrive for tranquility away from the City and shatter the very tranquility they are seeking to escape. Also couldn't there be some sort of rule that in a three bedroom house, Real Estate agents do not rent it to (at last count possible ten people, two males and presumably partners, two pre-teen smirking daughters, four juveniles under ten... aformentioned cricketers).
The thing that amuses me least is how people assume everyone who does work, does so from a City Office, or during the hours of 9 - 5, and have absolutely no idea how writers battle with the entire task. How on earth does Peter Carey manage it in the Big Apple? I can understand J K Rowling in a lovely heritage estate in rural Britain... but where do I go to before I have made my first royalties or pre-sales?
Heading bush seems to provide only a temporary respite as guess what... beauty, tranquility but no bloody internet or mobile connection. So I am still praying for a Melbourne/outer Eastern suburbs based house sit.
There has to be a perfect work space somewhere. Now Jackie how much are those studios in Abbotsford to rent... oh no good, can't sleep in the studio!
I am really starting of 2011 in a Maxine type mood.