Out of Sight, Out of Mind

This time he only wanted me in his life for three days before I stopped existing to him again. I think it’s a new record for him. It’s usually after at least around a week. I’m satirically bemused rather than shocked or surprised. I’ve watched myself spinning round and round this same cycle for the last seven months of my life and each ride ends the same way.

It’s his birthday today and I don’t exist to him.

I’d hoped that this time he had realised he really does want to be with me… and that maybe he had realised he doesn’t want to lose me. I’d hoped that this time he meant it.

It’s his birthday, and he didn’t include me in any part of his day.

I’d hoped he’d want me there as part of his day of festivities. I’d hoped that he wanted me there.

I’m not crushed. I’m not hurting. I’m not even angry. I chose to submit to the sweet, seductive melodies of the hamster wheel despite full disclosure of his capacity to emotionally wound me with every intoxicating revolution. I’m just tired of the defeated sound of my own broken record. I’m just so fucking tired of it.

It’s his birthday, and he doesn’t want me there, and he doesn’t want me.

ROCK BOTTOM

3A

3

Apparently, once you’ve hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.

I call bullshit. I pity the naivety of the fool who is incapable of realising (italics) that there is no limit to how bad things could get.

I resent the implication that I was ever at rock bottom. I wasn’t defeated. Those who believed otherwise simply don’t know me, and have proved that they don’t deserve to.

Still riddled with grief and guilt and weighted down with the responsibility of my broken family solely on my back, Peter and I agreed to make conscious decision to salvage our marriage.

I had missed my husband terribly in the time we’d been separated. I’d had more sexual interactions and opportunities and in such disgusting abundance I’m unsure whether to be proud or ashamed. I had my choice of men, both single and married. Promiscuous fun didn’t compare with the comfort of sleeping next to Peter. Slipping into bed against him, limbs entangled and holding hands as if our human need for sleep required each other are incomparable to lustful encounters and superficial affection from the perpetual well of partners. As polar opposite as we were in personality, Peter was my other half, my best friend, my soul mate.

I loved him more than he could or would ever know, and I wanted to heal the wounds I’d created. He loved me and hated me simultaneously. I was the only person who could stop the hurt, but as the months played out, I realised my very presence in his life kept the wound open. I know he tried, but bitterness and distrust from my betrayal was still corroding his heart. My big, immovable bull of a man was too stubborn in his hurt to see that his selfish detachment had hurt me just as much. Nevertheless, I owed it to my husband, our girls, the life we’d shared and the future we’d once never doubted would exist side by side to cop his hurtful verbal tirades. Had I known how deep a wound I would cause, I would have erased my actions if I had the power.

Some things can never be repaired, once broken. I am responsible for the consequences of my actions, but I’d have traded that sorrowful wisdom for Peter’s unbroken heart in an instant. He needed me to feel the extent of the damage. He needed to hurt me, and I felt I deserved it. I deserved to be destroyed to the depths that I’d destroyed him.

Rock bottom was drawing nearer, and depression was charming me with its dark, seductive harmonies, and haunting hypotonic motif.

I was miserable and withdrawn. His insatiable innate desire to make me pay weakened my very will to live. Prior to my infidelity and the separation, I thought his stone cold detachment was hurtful . Then enduring the viscous molten guilt of hurting him proved gut wrenchingly more immense. It was his resentment, his cruel spiteful words and the sheer disdain in his eyes that was even more unbearable. He would attack my character from every angle, using his intimate knowledge of my character weaknesses to stab the emotional knife right where it would inflict maximum impact. I was now damaged goods. He only used that term once, hoping it would break my confidence to a crippled and disabled level.

I felt like damaged goods. I’d learned how to give a hand job at age 4, living with the inescapable shame of my irreparable tarnish. Damaged was my default setting, and my very existence would inevitably also infect my beautiful daughters. Peter reassured me of that. Thoughts of suicide plagued me. I love my children too much to blatantly hurt them with the skewed ideals of a mother who’s confidence revolves around sexual attention. I couldn’t exorcise the bad from my character. The damage was permanent and incurable.

Rock bottom. It was so close I could feel it flirtatiously stroking my shattered ego, offering me comfort and respite from the agony of being me.

My own gluttony for inebriation rendered me incapable on the night my misery threatened to consume me. I had nothing left to offer life that night. Life had its own agenda though, perhaps wanting me to commit those dark, empty moments to a chapter in time to reflect upon in time. Another moment as a still frame of my journey, now passed and unable to be changed or edited.

I loved him, but it was swim or sink. Self-preservation or suicide.

For the second time, I gave up on my marriage. I chose failure over a future shrouded with guilt and destruction. I can no longer hope to reclaim my marriage, but I no longer wear a trench coat of guilt and shame as a wardrobe staple.

CODE BLUE – KNOCKING ON DEATH’S DOOR

2F

Jada, my baby, although only 3 minutes younger than her twin. My bonus baby, my curve ball, my perpetual source of medical angst and my most fiercely protected child on both a physical and emotional level.

I watched her struggle from the first moments after birth, silently aching with maternal need as she was taken to NICU instead of being with me.

I witnessed her sick, tired body momentarily lose the strength to fight for her life as she knocked on death’s door on her hospital bed, right before my eyes, realising in that moment absolute raw terror, and weeping uncontrollably when death turned her away, when her exhausted baby body proved to the room full of medical staff in the midst of her Code Blue that at 4.16kg, her desire to live was much greater than the complexities of her heart condition.

I wished a thousand times over that it could be me fighting the battle, instead of her, and I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve had to look away so she couldn’t see my helpless, heart broken tears as she cried at the discomfort and fear of the oxygen mask, pain of yet another blood test or cannula insertion, wishing for a ‘normal’ life for my innocent baby girl.

For every one of her three heart operations, I grew simultaneously stronger and weaker. Her bravery surpassed anything I’ve witnessed firsthand from another human. She was born into a physical struggle, and accepted her fight as inevitable. Being brave isn’t a lack of fear, but the courage to face up to it regardless.

Before every surgery, I would lose my delicate shreds of control as I signed the surgeons risk acknowledgement documents, wanting so much to grab Jada in my arms and run away from reality to shield her from the risks, the pain, and essentially from dying. I love her too much for that though, and each time I dripped my tears over my signature I knew that I loved her enough to give her the best fighting chance for that coveted ‘normal’ life that she deserved.

The pain of entrusting your child to a cardiac surgeon and his team is beyond my ability to describe. Kissing my baby Jada goodbye, leaving her side helpless, leaving her there without me, leaving her there without my protection was an emotional pain so immense it was physical. I felt gutted, like I was being depressed with a stronger than normal gravitational pull towards the ground, without any core strength to lift my shoulders or my head and only the muscle memory in my legs propelling me forward.

It seems contrary that Jada’s uncertain first few years were so full of despair, wretched but justified sadness with hurdle after hurdle medically, and so much fear could also bring such extremes of joy. The first time she laughed properly as a baby, less than a week after she nearly gave in to her exhaustion, was like a chorus of angels. Next to her twin, albeit in a hospital cot, but both my babies finally happy and well enough to smile up at me, in its sheer simplicity was to me a moment of miraculous beauty.

The phone call from her surgeon after her last operation, and that split second instinct to run away in case, just in case something had gone terribly wrong, just in case my baby had died, just in case she was never coming back and my life would have to go on without her in it. All in a split second, the fear nearly overwhelming me, but also in that split second finding the courage, as my brave little Jada is deserving of every bit of courage I can muster. In that short phone call, I was given the gift of Jada’s future, which had never been certain or even discussed at length. I’d lived with fear of losing her since before she was born, and considering life beyond a couple of years into the future felt like a cruel punishment given the gravity of cardiac complications she was born with.

I cried openly and unapologetically as the surgeon spoke. Raw and uncensored weeping from the depths of the darkened crevices within the soul of a mother who’d loved and held and kissed a child with an umpromised future. Tears relieving a four and a half year lead weight inside my heart and mind, voiced by the simplest but deepest feeling, that I was unable to articulate aloud in words.

Every day of her life so far had scared me. Any change in her health had the potential to turn horrific. I needed instead to stifle the fear as best I could, trying not to feed it to the point where I’d be overwhelmed. Sometimes it’d whisper, quietly reminding me. Sometimes it was loud, abrasive and arrogant. Sometimes it sobbed with the pain of sadness and despair.

I became encompassed in the anxiety, far from the person I was before. I was a mother of four, a wife, a daughter, a piano teacher, functional on the surface but seconds away from bursting into tears at any given time. I could talk about the facts of the situation to anyone genuinely interested, but people unaware that I was a fragile, anxious mess held together in public by a few desperate threads. A few closest to me acknowledged that I was consumed, but most were hesitant to genuinely discover the girth of the iceberg that lay beneath the surface. I don’t blame them. I was so immersed in our world of unrelenting worry that everyone else’s personal problems paled into insignificance.

Peter could mostly read my face when spoken words were difficult and unnecessary to communicate. I could never say it aloud, knowing if I held his gaze I was allowing him to see the desperate vulnerability of my crippling weakness. He knew I needed him to acknowledge my fear.

He understood the essence, my eyes saying what I couldn’t choke out in words – I am terrified that Jada will die.

It felt like a betrayal to Jada thinking that way, like I didn’t believe in her permanacy in my life. Guilt, sadness, despair, and terror. I didn’t see myself as pessimistic, but realistic.

Some kids with heart conditions die. It’s a fact I was told repeatedly by medical professionals and statistics, and it’s indiscriminate. Every child whose life ends prematurely from a CHD has a mother, a father and people who would trade everything they own for their child’s life. It’s not fair. I couldn’t guarantee Jada would live just because I ‘stayed hopeful’ or ‘was amazed at what the doctors can do’, or because old mates uncle’s neighbours cousin had a hole in the heart and you wouldn’t even know it. One surgeon informed me before Jada’s second surgery that the mortality rate for her particular operation was 10%. One child out of every 10 statistically had died during the same operation. 10% isn’t a huge percentage until it becomes a Russian Roulette with your child’s existence. I couldn’t bring myself to tell my husband. I think I wanted to shield him from the reality of the odds of the gamble. Maybe I couldn’t bear to see him as scared as I felt, and needed his strength to compensate for my weakness. Maybe saying it aloud would’ve made it all too real, preferring to avoid the frightening reality of her chances.

Jada is my most contented little girl, my teacher of resilience, and the one who allows me to appreciate my purpose in life. Jada is brave, even when she is fearful. She is happy, in spite of so much medical trauma. She’s chilled out and easy going, as if she’s never suffered a day in her life. She is very smart, like her big sisters, and loves books, imaginary play, toy babies and colouring things in beautifully. She loves affection, basking in cuddles and kisses and me stroking her soft pink skin. Jada loves her twin Josinta, her partner in crime and in-built bestie. They have a bond unique to the relationship of twins, oblivious to the notion that anything would ever prevent them being together. 

Jada makes me feel incredibly lucky. She has the health now to enjoy being a normal kid, not being a constant sickly shade of blue from lack of oxygen. She has the opportunity to run, to play, to sing a Frozen song without being breathless. To fall off a bike, scrape her knee, get some bruises like every normal kid, grateful that she finally had the strength in her muscles to ride a bike, to cry without her oxygen levels plummeting, and the energy to get back up.

I’VE HAD FOUR KIDS DAMNIT

2E

My humbly beautiful, sweet, Indi, with her vast emotional intelligence and incredible mind. I consider her as the most dependable and trusted person in my life. My equal in so many ways, even at 12, but surpassing me entirely in her gifts.

My gorgeous, sparkly Kiara. My shining star who brings light and laughter to whoever is lucky enough to be in her presence, effortlessly and devoid of ulterior motive. We are bonded in our extroversion, and have a wordless connection at times with our sense of fun and frivolity. Her joy is infectious, and her academic and creative abilities have no boundaries.

Josinta, my most sensitive and stubborn, cheeky and energetic, with the most striking, biggest, blackest eyes I’ve ever seen. She’s blessed with athletic and physical abilities well beyond her sisters, taking after Peter in nearly everything except her looks, and the fact that she is fascinated by boys, and loves their attention. She tries so hard to maintain a tough exterior, rarely giving in to tears, but the way her beautiful big eyes well up with tears when she can’t verbally express her hurt or sadness reflects her empathic and sensitive nature.

And my Jadafu…

Wealthy Woman

2D

Once upon a time I believed wealth equated to lots of money. In these few days approaching Josinta and Jada’s 7th birthday, and my 32nd birthday (we all know Facebook doesn’t lie 😂) I’m satisfied that I know better. The tough lessons, the blatant undeserved prizes, the gifts wrapped in obscurity, and the terrifying unexpected curve balls life has bestowed upon me have unearthed and refined my interpretation of life’s purpose. Wealth can be defined as an abundance of something desirable. On my birthday seven years ago, bedridden on the Maternity Ward of Mater Mothers Hospital in Brisbane, a beautiful lady belonging to the cleaning staff remarked upon my situation with a generous smile. ‘Four girls! You are a rich woman’. I absorbed those words, and appreciate them more and more as time passes. At the end of any day, year, and eventually my life, regardless of material possessions, cash in the bank or assets in my name, the abundance that I’ve been given makes me a wealthy woman, allowing me to fulfil my life’s purpose, as I understand it. 

To love, and be loved. That’s what life is all about. What I could have done so far in my life to deserve my four beautiful daughters eludes me, but maybe they were gifted to me paradoxically. Perhaps they were gifted to me because I simply needed four earthly angels to love me unconditionally and with such dependent enormity I could never again doubt my purpose as their mother.

Vodka Steps Up

2c

I’m unsure whether to laugh or cry at the absurdity of the situation. The situation being my current physical location, in my current emotional state, for want of a better word.

I’ve been crying, and again teetering on the brink of another flood of tears. I’m tired, in the mind and body, but most of all in my soul. Exhausted. I don’t, no I can’t deal with the struggle of being optimistic and I’m confronted with the overwhelming desire to just give up.

I don’t think happiness is an achievable goal for me.

I’m not like regular people.

I have a tortured soul and nothing or no-one can provide me with what is necessary to fill my proverbial cup of contentment. There is only one solution to amend my discontent. Maybe that’s why I’m here.

I do love my husband. I always have. I didn’t end the marriage because I don’t love him. I left because he can’t love me enough. He can’t be the glue that sticks all my broken bits back together enough to make me complete. He has his faults, but the problem is me. I am broken. Beyond repair. Countless men and a handful of lovers have proven that.

Why can’t I make it work with anyone else? I’ve had so many romantic encounters and I feel so fortunate to be handed so many opportunities on a silver platter, though I still can’t quite fathom how i am attractive to men, with my multitude of physical flaws. One life, one love. Maybe that’s true. Peter may be the only man alive with the capacity to fulfil me, but he’s too self-absorbed to be the man he promised he’d be in our wedding vows.

I’m destined for inner turmoil and misery. What’s the fucking point. The kids are grown enough now to flourish without me. 

I’m finding it very surreal that in my black state of despair that I can still appreciate humour and also have a heightened appreciation for the sheer beauty of things. Kiara’s beautiful soprano. Josinta’s mischievous giggle. Jada’s sweet naive voice. Indi’s superb wit. I still have feelings, and that’s possibly my biggest flaw. I feel everything so deeply. I love hard, and my wounds never heal.

I thought of all of the men I’ve entertained. I could nearly effortlessly be what they wanted and needed, smugly relishing in the satisfying power of filling the void in the simple, masculine mind. The satisfaction, for me, is paradoxically superficial, only temporarily flooding my hungry psyche with the security of feeling wanted and ‘good enough’.

Elaboration on my promiscuous misadventures and sexcapades is inevitable, but currently secondary and superfluous. I’ve had so many men. Some taught me lessons beyond the bedroom, some just plumped up my inflated ego, and some I fought with futility for their respect. Self-contradicting, I realise. None had the power to live within my scarred heart in any comparable amount to my husband.

Maybe the man who loves me enough to despise me is my destiny. Peter Charles Stewart. The young man who swore to love me until death. 

If I end it tonight, then maybe those vows are authentic. Until I die. 

I could quit the fight, right here, tonight. Give up. Sweet, comforting peace, at last. No more hurt. No more struggle.

Bulletproof.

I’ve been mentally surveying the contents of Peter’s medicine cache since I arrived here with the kids at 6pm. He’s got enough there to kill me, I’m sure.

I can end my internal suffering once and for all.

(Ed – written four years ago, I’d been Dutching up my courage all night while I cried and journaled. My will to live battled my will to die. My old mate Vodka, albeit a somewhat love-hate relationship that we have, proved to have my back when it counted. I passed out drunk before I could go through with it.)

Losing my Best Friend to the Bike Club

2C

Peter found his niche in that club. In hindsight, it filled a void for him that I obviously couldn’t. Once upon a time, our social lives were predominantly each other. He was my other half. I felt he’d rejected me for the club. I was second choice, yet again. 

The twins were two, and with Jada’s health issues nearly consuming me, I’d never lost the pregnancy weight and tipped the scales at 98kg the day I decided to make some time for myself and get myself back to a shape other than round. Within three months I looked decent again, and after 6 was the leanest and fittest I’d ever been. He got the motorbike, so I scratched together enough money for a boob job in Thailand to match the body is worked so hard for. Losing 34kg was no mean feat. I ran my arse off. 

Bike club was every Friday night, with the occasional ride on weekends. Sometimes, Mum would come to babysit so I could go too. Otherwise I stayed at home with the kids. I had fun going there when I had the opportunity. Drinks were cheap and I would be thrilled to get out of the house in a nice dress. I had my body confidence back, after 3 pregnancies.

Peter seemed to resent my confidence. My wearing more revealing clothes angered him, rather than excited him. The first night I went to the bike club I wore what I considered to be a sexy little dress. I thought he’d be proud to show off his wife. I’ve had four kids damnit. Instead he was angry.

I couldn’t understand. I was respectfully flattered by his club brethren all night, I was fun and polite and friendly and everyone seemed to like me. Peter was ashamed of me. I got too drunk. My dress was too short. I was letting other men check me out and flirt with me. What man isn’t proud of a sexy wife? Why wasn’t my husband pleased? 

Bike club took up more and more of his time and effort. He’d made some good friends, and held a position on the committee. He is a good, valuable member of the club. 

At the end of each working day, though, and at home on the weekends, he was physically present at home but not emotionally. He barely interacted with us, almost like he was disconnected. My life partner was growing more distant. He’d left me alone. My other half had detached from me.  The bike club became his family, and we were his obligation. Club got the best of him, and we got the dregs. He’d come home late after bike club, drunk and ask me why I was crying. I’d tell him that I was just so fucking lonely. We’d sleep in bed together every night, with a regular and good sex life but I was desperately alone.

How could I possibly be lonely? He’d almost scoff at the notion. Didn’t you do lunch with your friends the week before last? I said it’s unfair that he got to have a fun night life with other adults, and my social life was limited to bi-annual non alcoholic events with some mothers I’d met through school. He encouraged me to go out Saturday nights. Tag team. He’d go out Friday night, I’d go somewhere Saturday night.

I love going out. I didn’t knock it back. I felt confident with my looks for the first time ever, and loved myself sick in short party dresses that showed off the labour of my sweat sessions in the gym. I’d use every spare minuscule of freedom he gave me to party as much as I could and be out as late as possible. I felt like a single woman. Marriage felt like a business arrangement. We both played our roles and we had very separate social lives.

Peter had depression. As well as anxiety. It had always been there just recently diagnosed. I think it rose further to the surface once in the club, because of the added pressure to perform well there. He’s an all or nothing kind of guy. Save for the bike club, everything else drained him emotionally. At home, he was an irritable, detached member of the family. He’d seethe quietly with what I could only assume was rage, never being able to express what was wrong and angry if I tried to communicate. I was tense in his presence, and most conversations would end in a fight.

The kids knew when we were fighting. There’d be loud angry words in the kitchen, followed by Peter and I yelling behind our closed bedroom door, storming outside frequently to smoke. I remembered how confronting it was to witness my own parents fighting. As a child I’d lock myself in the toilet to hide away while they bickered. It frightened me. It was as if my husband had been replaced by a nearly emotionless version of himself. He was detached from the girls and me. We got very little but anger and hostility from him emotionally. I felt unimportant, unloved and completely alone. He came alive at the bike club, but was dead inside at home with us.

The rejection wore me down. I was as supportive and optimistic as I could be, but a bridge can’t be supported if you destroy its foundations. I was insecure, and lonely and felt like a single parent battling the world on my own, while my husband did whatever he needed to feel better with the club. I felt unloved. Unnecessary and unwanted. The man I gave my life to tapped out of our love to conserve his little emotional energy for his new family, the bike club. I would tell him that I needed him to show me he loved me. He would say it more frequently than me, but the words lost their meaning without action. He said that he works all day to provide for us, which was true. He said after working a ten hour day he had no energy left. A lot of the time, the kids weren’t even aware he was home. If he emerged from the bedroom at some point to eat dinner, often by himself in another room, the kids would be surprised and happy. ‘Dad’s home! Daddy eat dinner with us’. He’d go through the motions, but his heart wasn’t in family life. I know the brotherhood of the bike club was good for him. I didn’t want him to leave the club. He needed the spark of happiness it brought him. But he didn’t need us. He didn’t need me. I couldn’t make him happy. Depression was not his fault, but it’s a very selfish demon. To this day, he doesn’t remember how I held the fort while he was emotionally absent. He refuses to recall the many, many times I held him as he sobbed. The way I distracted the kids and parented solo while he raged silently for hours on end in bed.

His depression had become toxic. I resented his commitment to the club. I needed my lover, my best friend and my children’s father back.  I needed to feel valued, and attractive, and important. In the absence of the security and validation of his love that I’d had for more than a decade, I had a massive void. I was miserable. The less attention he was paying me, the more I was appreciating attention from other men.

Flattery and compliments on my looks fed my needy ego. I enjoyed knowing that I looked good. I had convinced myself that if so many other men appeared to appreciate my company when my husband would often ignore my presence completely, then I mustn’t just be a nothing, like I felt at home.

My infidelity was not about sex. It was about being valued, and appreciated. It was about my own selfish need for validation in a lonely marriage. Childhood sexual trauma at a very age has left me with a skewed perception of sexual satisfaction. My infidelity was without any emotions at all, but produced a kind of synthetic feeling of being loved that I desperately needed to feel. Maybe I’d become numb like him, and that tiny bit of spark from being wanted warmed up the cold abyss of my lonely heart.

A lonely heart is a cold, selfish place. I know it was a terrible thing to do to the man I loved. I felt so rejected and empty. The need to feel even a sliver of validation was strong. I was weak. I’m only human. I needed to get through each day parenting four kids, working, and picking up the slack for a man who couldn’t love me enough. A man with no feelings for me, after all those years. 

Who am I trying to convince here? Unbiased strangers to read my recount and assure me that I’m not the amoral floosy he thinks I am. Myself? Maybe I’m trying to justify it to ease the guilt? Am I writing this for Peter, an explanation to make the hurt I’ve inflected a little less severe? I feel that he could’ve made more effort for me. He reserved the best of himself for the club instead of directing what energy he had for me. He made vows at our wedding to always love me, and he didn’t. I’m only human, and an instinctive human response to being lonely is seeking company to fill the void. 

I still love my husband. I still call him my husband. I hate that I hurt him. He needed me and I abandoned the marriage when he never would have abandoned me. I hurt the one man who would have been by my side forever, at least physically. I could probably cure his hurt, if only I wasn’t the cause of it. 

Do I spend the rest of my life making it up to him in a marriage scarred by hurt, devoting every day to fixing what I broke, or just leave him broken with a bandaid solution girlfriend to distract him from the sting of betrayal. I would be a loyal and monogamous wife, his other half. I want to heal him. I did this. I want to hold his wounds together with my own hands until he’s whole again. He might never be able to love me enough. Do I learn to accept never being his first priority in life, although he needs me to make him my first priority? The conflict in my head becomes overwhelming to the point where I become numb. 

When I’m not numb, I’m crying constantly. My eyes are puffy and my head hurts. I don’t condone cheating. I believe people partner up and stay monogamous and true to their love. I think I was defeated. I’d given up on my marriage as we definitely weren’t making each other happy. I’d said it to him so many times before I’d ever been unfaithful. I told him there would come a point where I’d be emotionally taxed down to nothing and if he didn’t start giving me anything back then all the misery and fighting were pointless because there’d be nothing left to save.

Our marriage was barren. I tried to end the marriage, beg him in tears to let me go as it was killing me inside. There was no compromises with him in his uncommunicative state. He’d threaten suicide. I felt manipulated. He didn’t care that I was unhappy. He didn’t love me enough to listen to what I was really saying. I needed him to dig deeper and show me he loved me. He wouldn’t. Maybe he couldn’t.

I felt like shit. I’d had been with him since I met him at 20 and was immediately in love. He was my other half. I felt like half a person and resented him for devaluing all our years together. I wasn’t being a great mum anymore. I was detached from the kids, impatient for the weekends so I could go out on a drinking bender and feel some shreds of happiness with the flattery of other drunk adults. Any compliment from a man or woman inflated my ego and put me on a high. Jealous, nasty women actually pleased me. The more they hated me based on my physical appearance the bigger high I’d get. If my outfit was eye-catching enough, the euphoric feeling of a huge ego could last me nearly all week until the next time I went out. Selfies posted to Facebook were a constant reminder of that high I would feel when my ego was fed. I’d feel great again, temporarily, until tensions with Peter deflated me again to a complete low. Sometimes i’d start plummeting towards the low as soon as I’d get home if he was awake and argumentative. I felt like he hated seeing my confidence and seeing me happy. My happiness wasn’t his responsibility but I wasn’t allowed to seek it elsewhere.

I was trapped. The lows would leave me crying like a child and empty inside. I often thought of killing myself. Playing scenarios in my head of running my car into a power pole, or successfully swallowing enough of whatever medicines I could find were soothing and peaceful to me. If nothing else, I could end the pain of the low if I had to. I thought that would show Peter how unbearable life feels for me without the high. Then he’d realise that he should’ve been there for me too. He was so self absorbed. He didn’t care. I needed him to care about me and all he cared for was the stupid bike club and himself. I hated the thought of leaving my girls though. That was the only thing stopping me. I am their Mum. They need me to be here and alive and loving them properly. 

 Like an addict, I’d anticipate the fix I’d get. Even now that I go out rarely, the anticipation of a big night out gives me physical changes long before I drink. I get restless and jittery. My heart races and my hands get a little shaky with excitement. 

As the lows afterwards got deeper and harder to emerge from, I’d seek a bigger fix to compensate. My night out would start earlier so I could have as much social time as possible. My clothes were increasingly eye catching. If I couldn’t turn heads in it, I wouldn’t wear it. I’d be smug as fuck if an unattractive nasty woman exhibited hostility towards me. I’ve been overweight and unattractive and resented attractive confident women who were unafraid to show off their bodies. I know how women think. All women, extroverted or not, fantasise about being physically pleasing enough to leave men staring and other women jealous.

One particular night two unattractive women in Flynns made no secret that they absolutely loathed me, for nothing more then being in the vicinity of their husbands. I made them so insecure about themselves they’d assumed I’d somehow lure their husbands from them, just by being there. The extreme absurdity of their insecurities fed my big greedy monster ego. Fuck them. Their hate is actually my validation so who’s really winning here, bitches. They don’t even lift.

The Widening Chasm

Section 2B

Five months after separating from my husband of 12 years I had a drunken moment of true remorse for the pain of caused him.

I admitted I had strayed.

I swore it was a one off occurrence, but I hadn’t been faithful since 2013.

He was right when he’d said he was still the exact same person that I married. Dead right. Four kids, three heart surgeries, two funerals, a failed and financially detrimental property investment, and an uncountable amount of ups and downs. He hadn’t changed an iota. Four kids had moulded me into a self sacrificing mothering machine, while every decision he actioned put his own interests above the kids and me.

We had married in 2003. At the time, 22 hadn’t seemed too young to us. I had been smitten with his handsome good looks and eagerness to love me until ‘death do us part’. The power of that brief phrase haunts me with sorrow – immense enough to choke me with more grief than an entire encyclopaedia of marriage breakdown couldn’t express. I don’t know why he’d chosen me. Maybe he saw a security in my adoration beyond my flaws. Maybe I made him happy at least for a while.

At my persuasion, my desire for a baby was fulfilled shortly after. Any void that existed for me before becoming a mother ceased to exist after her birth as I blissfully devoted my life’s purpose to her development. We were new, young parents with significantly less money, more responsibility and our little family as our only real social life. I didn’t ache for an outlet to escape, but a Peter did. He needed a hobby, an interest, something for himself to focus on that would help him to be less listless and more fulfilled. I wasn’t experiencing that same emptiness but I felt for him being so depressed, as he’d tell me, without a hobby. I’d tweak our already stringent budget to allow for the list of expenses he’d detailed would be a requirement for the necessary hobby. There was always a list that couldn’t be skimped on in an all or nothing approach. Unless I could make it affordable in our budget then he’d just have to scrap the idea and go back to being miserable. Spurred on by my wholehearted belief that I should prioritise my husband’s happiness over financial sensibility, I’d use economic wizardry I didn’t know I was capable of to stretch our budget as thin as needed to accommodate whatever was needed to ward off his misery. As our family grew so did financial struggles. Peter’s various expensive hobbies were prioritised even when we barely had enough money to pay the mortgage. If I couldn’t make the numbers work he’d just have to give up all hope of happiness and resign himself to suffer depression at the lack of a fulfilling life. I didn’t understand, he said, because I wasn’t missing out on fulfilment – raising the kids and working hard 6 days a week in my music business were my hobbies and it’s wasn’t his fault his hobbies weren’t free like mine.

He dabbled in fishing, then powerlifting, then hunting, via archery, then rifle shooting. Every time I’d question the necessity of a new expensive piece of equipment in light of our growing financial burdens, the onset of sacrifice induced depression would become a real threat to his happiness. As the budgeter, the decision always lay in my hands. We sacrificed a lot for his expensive happiness.

Eventually even the rifle hunting wasn’t sufficient to stave off depression. He needed a motorbike and the fact that with four kids we really couldn’t afford was irrelevant. I wore old clothes and hadn’t had a haircut in a year, or even time to have a haircut. I ferried the kids around in a shitty old Kia Carnival with no air-con and leaked 4 litres of engine oil per week but that was irrelevant too. He had always wanted a motorbike though, and he worked hard as the main breadwinner. He deserved some rewards for the efforts of his labour and needed it to avoid depression.

Peter sought himself a motorbike loan, bought a bike and joined a bike club.

BULLETPROOF. AS. FUCK

I never know my exact thoughts until I’ve written it down. Written the shit out of it. The clarity descends as I ride the desperate need for exact representation. Then, and only then can the room full of Doubts be silenced. Blessed serenity.

Thank you for reading the stories of my life. Knowing my voice has a willing audience is one of the truest compliments I could hope to receive.

I’m not presenting it in chronological order, but will endeavour to number the sections so it will eventually fall into place like the pieces of a puzzle.

Of course the subject matter is not suitable for everyone who knows me. My daughters have Facebook accounts, as do my parents and every ex-partner/fuckbuddy I’ve had. With the exception of my children, all will be spoken about candidly. It’s best to maintain anonymity and stick to my alias – Bulletproofaf.

Thank you for hearing my voice xxx

GIRL CRUSH IN A STRAIGHT WAY

2B

In time, I grew to respect the strength of my beautiful flatmate HMS for her remorse-fuelled honesty. Integrity means doing the right thing, even when nobody is watching. She risked my fury and my friendship to give me the respect of the truth. Very few people are compelled towards proper honesty especially when there is nothing to gain.

Approaching my 40th year, I am only too aware that my circle of friends is barely more than a pivot point. HMS is one of the few humans I’ve found that are genuinely and innately good.

She’s real, she’s raw and brave enough to face her own mistakes in life as well as serve our country in the military. She is integrity and empathy rolled into a determined, courageous, stellar package of humble, witty intelligence.

Our lives took vastly different paths after our first year at uni together and our brief stint as stoner flat mates. I became engaged at 20, married at 23 and travelled the path of house-wife and stay-at-home Mum to four daughters.

HMS all but disappeared from my life for years, having joined the Army and progressing in her career whilst navigating her own emotional journey.

Fortunately for me, HMS accepted a posting back home. Nearly two decades of life had sharpened her impulsive feisty fire into a wisened, sophisticated weapon of intelligence to be reckoned with. Still cheeky, still spontaneous but with heightened knowledge of her abilities.

When she applied to be posted back down south, I wanted to beg her to stay within the stones throw away I’d come to take for granted.

I didn’t though. Her friendship and happiness mean more to me than my selfish want for her company to be at my convenience.

Instead, I gave her my words of encouragement…

Goodbyes are hard. Change is hard. You, HMS, are one of the bravest women I know. You have an abundance of integrity. I see it. It’s rare, and it’s a special quality to have. You are intelligent and you understand people (even if you say you don’t and someone shits you to tears), but you are humble in your wisdom and you don’t gain pleasure in hurting or damaging another’s confidence… even those who aren’t the sharpest tool in the shed.

I recognised those fascinating qualities way back when I first met you at uni. I thought you were all kinds of awesome – a beautiful (yeah I went there, shoosh), funny and confident girl who I instantly admired. Good thing you also thought I was funny or kind or something 😂 or it might have been an awkward straight girl crush. A weird straight girl-who sometimes wishes to be lesbian because you girls have such a great dynamic as partners- but way too attracted to cunt males- but totally wants to see you smile – crush.

Please reassure M, although I’m sure she knows this, that I’m not trying to cut her grass 😂. I’m glad you’ve got an awesome chick like M to look after you down there.

Not Down There 😳. Mind out of the gutter you pair.

Anyhow, I digress.

You woman-ned up and committed to what you believe is a better job and consequently a better more positive life, knowing that everyone who loves you here in Townsville would whinge.

We are selfish. You need to be happy. I miss you already but I’d prefer you to be content, even if that means I see less of you. Sweet mother of god. I’m so self sacrificial I’m practically Mother Teresa.

Onwards and upwards. Distance shmistance.

I’ve had four kids damnit.

#teamhms