Like Dust, I’ll Rise

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My favourite poet, Maya Angelou x

 

Firstly I really need to thank everyone for their kind messages following my last post. Every day I feel like I’m getting stronger and it’s because of all of you. I’m trying to keep telling myself that my life isn’t falling apart, but instead it’s falling into place. God, I hope that that’s right, or else all the struggle and fight was really for nothing.

Secondly, for those of you playing at home, you might remember that I said we were asked to be a part of Insight’s discussion on domestic adoption but I missed the filming because I was stuck being a dweeb in hospital. Well, at the time I found that ridiculously unfair, like all my advocating for adoption had met a dead end. But now, in the ever-marvellous world of hindsight, I can quite clearly see that that was for the best. I mean I already feel humiliated enough without all of Australia witnessing it. Anyway, the point is the program airs tonight at 8.30pm on SBS ONE and it is bound to be a very interesting look into all the different perspectives at play in the adoption debate. So tune in you beauties.

As for my health, as many of you have messaged and asked me, I am feeling a lot better and *hopefully* my clots are disintegrating as I write. I still have to get a zillion blood tests and I take a bottle of Warfarin a night (not literally – relax) but I do feel a lot stronger – physically, mentally and hungrily. Also I’m caring for my mum full time, who has managed to snap her Achilles’ Tendon during this whirlwind of bad luck, so that’s kept my mind fairly focused on routine things like eating and administering drugs and injections, rather than plotting the demise of infidels.

Source: Giphy.com

Source: Giphy.com

Thank you for keeping me strong and honest. x

Lady is Broken

There is no easy way to do this; in fact I have been putting it off for weeks. The sad truth is that I, Ms. Lady Breaks, am broken. I don’t mean broken in the sense of cracked or rusty or crinkly or hurt. I mean b r o k e n. Crushed, obliterated, eliminated. Smashed into a zillion unfixable pieces.

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And I’ve spent a long time thinking through the best way to do this. I mean this site is about strong, resilient women and it’s about my journey towards a family. And now, my life is about none of those things. I feel weak and battered and unsure of the future. Every single one of my dreams has been ripped from me, callously and without warning. Everything I spent fourteen years building and loving is gone. The last eight years of a harrowing fertility journey has culminated in an epic naught and nothing.

Mr. Lady Breaks has opted out of our life together.

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Right now I simply can’t make sense of it, and I don’t know the right words to articulate it. I don’t know how not to spew hate across this page at what has been done to me. I don’t know how to describe the hole in my heart that was full of him for more than half my life. I don’t understand why this has happened. And I can’t begin to comprehend the depth of repugnance of character of someone who would come between a husband and a wife.

In all honesty I never would have thought that this would happen to me. I loved being married and I adored my husband and our life together. Fertility issues aside, I thought we had a pretty damn good life. But, I guess life is always ready with another curve ball, I just could never have seen this one coming – especially not when I was already in hospital!

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I thought long and hard about closing Lady Breaks down completely. I feel humiliated and ashamed of my story now, like I finally managed to build up the courage to share everything and now it’s all irrelevant anyway. All those adoption assessments, safety locks, IVF needles, baby clothes, all that pain and anguish, the years of hoping and dreaming, it’s all withered away to a pointless and traumatic end. I was always so sure that Spring would eventually break forth for us.

So yeah, I was very close to just shutting this whole embarrassing blog down, I felt hypocritical, like everything it reflected no longer resonated with my reality. But then I remembered that I am the captain of this ship, and I really friggen love writing it. I remembered that its focus is on strong and resilient women, getting back up despite everything telling them to stay down… and I want to go to there.

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Right now, I do feel broken, but I know I will get up again. I would love you to keep walking with me as I fight my way through this (I promise to reward you with multiple cat gifs). I will still advocate for adoption. I will still promote infertility and pregnancy loss awareness. And I will still have my lovely, inspirational Guest Ladies. I just don’t really know what else I will have, because I really don’t know what my new life will look like yet. So if you don’t mind a blog that is more like an unfinished ‘Choose your Own Adventure’ novel, jump on board.

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As for me, I will get back to listening to Adele and watching animal compilations on Youtube.

x

Note: I don't really want to listen to Taylor Swift.

Note: I don’t really want to listen to Taylor Swift.

For the Ladies

So you know those things you often hear about and ignore? Like mobile phones give you cancer, or tampons give you toxic shock syndrome, or using comic sans means you’re emotionally unstable… or the Pill gives you blood clots? Well, it turns out the Pill does in fact give you blood clots. And by “you”, I mean “me”. And don’t even get me started on Comic Sans.

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I can already hear some people asking why the hell I was on the Pill anyway, perhaps solving our “infertility” mystery. The reason is actually quite boring and maybe a little TMI: After years of failing to conceive, I went on the Pill to manage Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I have only been on it for the past 1 – 2 years.

Anyway, I’m trying to go into a bit of detail so that other ladies can be a little more clued up than I was/ am. Of course I had heard some rumblings about the risk of blood clots and the Pill lately (for example here and here) but I naturally didn’t think it would happen to me, and I wasn’t even on Diane or Yasmin (I was taking Estelle <– such a strange sentence to write). But as far as I can tell – and I’m certainly no expert – your risk of blood clots is three times higher on any oral-contraceptive Pill.

I’m really not trying to scare anyone, but the statistics are pre-tty frightening. I guess I was lucky in that I had recently taken a plane trip to Bali, so Deep Vein Thrombosis did come to my mind after my leg had been cramping for a few days. But it is only a five-hour flight, so I felt kind of ridiculous turning up at Emergency in the middle of the night. Anyway, thank God I did. After blood tests and ultrasounds the clots in my leg were discovered.

After that news sunk in, I remembered how I had felt short of breath and lethargic over the past few weeks, which I had just put down to stress. I requested a lung scan, which, after some persistent pleading, the Doctors finally agreed to do.

My Walter White moment

My Walter White moment

The scan showed that I have clots in both my lungs. After staying hospital for a few days, I am now enjoying house arrest ‘Hospital in the Home’. This means that a nurse visits me twice a day to give me blood tests and injections, and I take a hella lot of Warfarin. Unfortunately I only have one “good-arm-that’s-not-so-good” so I look a lot like a heroin addict these days.

Anyway – if I can just bitch and moan for one second – it’s the timing of this that has really gotten to me. You see, I had this great surprise for everyone: Mr. Lady Breaks and I were asked to be part of a discussion on local adoption on SBS’s Insight program. The filming was today. It’s just so frustrating, but I am glad that the discussion is finally being had in a public forum. Also, while I’m whining, this means I can never take the Pill again… which is fine apart from the fact it will make it rather impossible to do IVF again. So there you go.

Ok, pity party over. I’m not advocating for women to burn their monthly blister packs, but just please make sure you’re informed about the Pill you’re taking, and, if you’re worried, go and get your INR level tested by your Doctor. In the meantime I’ll get back to thinning my blood and watching Girls for ten hours each day.

Stay safe xoxo

Eww, I know, but I couldn't help myself!

Eww, I know, but I couldn’t help myself! (Source: http://giphy.com/gifs/rZ3mpHV9qLaxi)

What I learnt from grief

Today’s Guest Post is so inspiring and breath taking I wish that I could make the entire world read it. I wish I could swallow it down into my soul and truly embody it, and as the New Year approaches I am determined to meditate on Amy’s thoughts and *try* to apply them to my own life.

Amy and I went to Primary and Secondary School together and we weren’t always the best of friends. In Primary School she hated how I would “show-off” and do the splits everywhere and I thought she was annoying and a “teacher’s pet” – I mean, her mum worked at the school, what was with that?!

Somehow we managed to put these differences aside and maintain a civil relationship through out High School, but it has been in the years since then that I’ve really seen the depth of her beautiful character. Amy is now a Classical Chinese Medicine Doctor who works tirelessly to bring fabulous health and strength to her clients, and she absolutely loves loves loves her work!

You are about to read just a snippet of her journey – prepare to be encouraged, motivated and challenged! Thank you so much for sharing with us Amy!!!

x

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Three years ago I went out to play pool with my brother.

We’re actually not blood related at all, but Pat had been a part of our family since I was in primary school. He had been a weekly fixture at Wednesday night Changing Rooms and Roast Nights at mums since I was 12.

We would sneak off and play pool after dinner to avoid doing the dishes, and he would hang me upside down by my ankles over the slate floor, and then let go of one of my ankles until I giggled myself beetroot red and mum was forced to intervene with a stern “Ah… Patrick… I think it’s time you put her down…”

Pat picking me up in one arm + holding a beer in the other at my sisters wedding. So Much Fun!

Pat picking me up in one arm + holding a beer in the other at my sisters wedding. So Much Fun!

He was the gentle giant that made the whole room giggle, and he broke up the girl-on-girl sister tension with his bold and deeply cheeky ways.

So, three years ago, we went out on the town to play pool.

And two weeks later he was gone.

Because two weeks later it all got too much,

and Pat committed suicide.

He was 31.

I cannot express what it feels like to experience such overwhelming grief and deep sadness in every part of your body,

in every nook

in every cell

right down to your very wounded and fragile soul.

Those weeks are a blur. I didn’t go to work. I remember helping to choose the suit that Pat would be buried in. I remember sitting with my sister and Pat’s beautiful long term previous girlfriend sifting through photos for the funeral. I remember staring blankly at walls.

I wrote a lot. For hours each day I penned streams of subconscious thoughts and feelings.

And I gave myself permission to feel it all.

Deep, full body, heartbreaking pain. Numbness, shock and raw emotion.

I had a godsend of a beautiful counsellor to help support my path.

The big decision I made early on was to sit with each emotion as it arose; to embrace every moment for what it was.

I chose to feel the depth and breadth of it all in each moment because I knew deep down that even though the full experience of grief is so painful it’s almost debilitating, it’s also the only way to heal.

Every day was a big day.

Hard day after hard day.

But at some point, something changed.

The condolence flowers on the desk in my bedroom began to wilt and die in front of my eyes. Something shifted.

‘Don’t we all die at last, and too soon?’

I started wondering how it was that I had programmed myself to believe that I was always entitled to another day.

I owned up to the big elephant in the room…that some day each of us will have our last day.

Boom.

There it was.

The shift.

Instead of contracting, shrinking, blocking and controlling, I expanded and welcomed.

I stretched out on the river of change.

It was painfully refreshing.

Liberating difficult.

I distinctly remember walking around Brunswick and being overcome by a massive, whole body wash of deep gratitude for all that we have in each moment.

I remember not wanting to put my sunglasses on, because I wanted to feel and see the world in all its raw intensity.

The delicious rays of sunlight.

The leaves dancing on the pavement.

All such delightful miracles

And treasures to keep

If we only see it.

It caused a palpable and ever-present shift in my life – and it all comes back to how I changed my perspective on that day, lying curled up in my bed, staring at the red wallpaper of my Brunswick share house.

So what changed?

I am no longer prepared to live a life that is any less than breathtaking, amazing and deeply soul filling.

I am here to live the depth and breadth of all that I can be.

I am so clear about what makes me feel amazing, and knowing that I won’t be here forever somehow gives me the courage make big and bold decisions based on what I am here to do in this crazy beautiful life.

I invite big and scary change. I love them in fact.

I moved states

away from all my family and friends.

I found the love of my life

and created my very own business that I’m so deeply in love with that I can hardly call what I do “going to work”

I designed a life that I love

And I wake up every day with a smile on my face

at this crazy, beautiful life!

I’m no longer willing to compromise or falter when it comes to what truly matters

because I feel big clarity.

I work tirelessly to create a reality that is totally in line with what I crave from my life experience.

I give my brain, my ego, over thinking and over rationalisation a whole lot less credit than I used to. They’re more like backseat drivers to me at this point.

I listen to and act on what my gut/heart/intuition tells me, and I pursue the things that I am deeply passionate about.

I’m careful what and who I surround myself with.

I’m not perfect, but I no longer aspire to be.

I know what I am here for.

I know what matters.

And I am unapologetically myself.

I barely ever wear make up

And I smile when I look in the mirror at just how lovely and true to my deep nature I am becoming.

I am here to feel clear, light, vibrant, deep and whole.

I am here to experience truly amazing health,

to burst out joy and to radiate kindness,

to help others discover their own fabulous health.

I treat my body like it is the most beautiful vehicle for change,

Because I believe that it is.

I want to inspire, create, to live and to love.

So I do.

Every single day.

And boy it feels good!

I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude on an hourly basis.

When I start to sweat the small stuff,

(And I do, because I am human)

I stop. I take time out. I ask myself what I really need.

I resist the urge to get swept up in it.

I ask my partner his honest thoughts.

I surround myself with notes that make me smile,

Peg my goals and desires above my desk.

And meditate each day to check in and realign with that deep clarity.

Because I know I am worth it.

Which is lovely in itself.

I still feel overwhelmingly devastated that the world lost such a cheeky and kind-hearted, beautiful treasure, but the feeling of loss has paved the way for the deepest sense of privilege that I was blessed to share those moments with him at all.

My life would be void of so many beautiful moments, adventures, giggles and fun without his presence.

At the end of the day,

I just want to learn all that I can from the deep experience that I was gifted.

So when it comes,

I welcome the pain.

And I am grateful for it.

Pain is beautiful because it reminds us of all that we have.

And it reminds me of the lasting and deeply beautiful effect you can have on your fellow life travellers.

Little things like walking past a pool table at a pub can beam joy right into the core of my heart, and make me feel giggly, full and grateful.

Other times it can open up a deep fragility.

And occasionally it overcomes me,

But I learnt to let go of judgement long ago.

If tears come,

I don’t mind,

I’m sure as hell not going to hold back anything that my body wants to feel, because that ain’t the path to fabulous health!

I simply respect the feeling, the beauty, the loss, and often I’ll say something in my head or my heart to my brother Pat,

I breathe, I embrace, and I gently move on.

I learn and grow.

Learn and grow.

I stretch out on the river of change.

Gentle tips for finding your way through grief

  1. Be gentle with yourself. Be kind. Be patient. Let go of expectations. The most beautiful and useful thing that no one ever tells you about grief is that we all deal with it in our own unique way, and that that’s okay.
  2. Find a brilliant counsellor to guide, support, and hold the space for you as you move through the complex up-and-down of it all.
  3. For all types of transition, my favourite book is ‘Broken Open’ by Elizabeth Lesser. Truly beautiful.

All the best with your beautiful journey. You’re doing a good job.

Amy

Amy O'Brien

Amy O’Brien

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What did I tell you?! I think everyone can take something from this amazing reflection! Thank you so much Amy for giving us an insight into your journey, I’m sure it will speak to many people.

Make sure you check out Amy’s website, Fabulous Health, and ‘like’ her Facebook page, Chinese Medicine + Fabulous Health, where she regularly posts tips to achieving (you guessed it) Fabulous Health!

I am truly so blessed to know so many beautiful ladies like Amy – we can all learn so much from each other! Thank you again Amy! xoxoxo

In Loving Memory of Pharaoh

Lady Breaks was created as a space for women to be real about their struggles and heartbreak, and to use those hardships as fuel to push themselves upward rather than down. Of course this is much easier said than done, and sometimes the valleys are so deep and vast simply choosing to take another step requires more strength than anyone should ever need to muster.

Losing a child is an agony that I cannot even begin to imagine or process; yet devastatingly one in every four parents experiences it. I feel so incredibly honoured to share Bianca’s story with you today. Bianca and I knew each other as teenagers, and reconnected again through the wonder of Facebook. Although our journeys have been extremely different, there is some sort of unspoken solidarity through shared grief.

I can’t really express how much I admire her strength and bravery through this time, it has inspired me to push on and keep sharing my own journey. Thank you Bianca for giving us an insight into your grief, and allowing us the privilege of meeting your son Pharaoh.

x

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A year ago, I would have never pictured my partner and I decorating our first family Christmas tree alone. A time that is meant to be full of joy and excitement is now overcome with emptiness. I had so many visions of what it would be like to have a new baby to spoil on his first Christmas day.

It has been 10 months since Pharaoh passed away, although I am now a lot stronger in my grief it still hurts to know all of my hopes and dreams for this year, and forever, are gone. I know each year I will grow stronger, but the first milestones and celebrations are always the hardest.

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Grief can be a very isolating journey. I know at times I have felt very alone and misunderstood. It can also be quite challenging for loved ones around me to really understand and accept all of the emotions and feelings that come along with it. I understand life has to go on for the world, but my world is only just starting to, very slowly, spin again. I feel I have literally been stuck in time, back with all of my hopes and dreams for our son.

I know to some it may seem like I’m being selfish but I can’t and won’t change my journey through grief. It is such a personal experience so who are others to judge or have false expectations? It is very easy for society to suggest we grieve in a way better suited to them. Unless you have been through what 1 in 4 mothers go through, there is no way they could possibly understand how debilitating it can be. Every experience is different, and people deal with things in their own way, in their own time.

When your baby dies, the world is put into a new perspective. Things that were once important now seem superficial and materialistic. It tests some relationships and makes others stronger. It helped me to be outward with my grief, and I found different ways to express all the emotions I was feeling. I created ‘Pharaoh’s Page‘ for this very purpose and I appreciate anyone who ‘liked’ our page and read an article or two. The page was never created to preach my alternative beliefs, and ways of living. It was a way for me to share the lifestyle I had planned for Pharaoh, and a way for me to still parent him. Every article that was read and acknowledged helped me to keep his memory alive. So I would like to thank each of you who have followed my journey through healing. It is far from over, and I know each day will be a new one.

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It amazes me how much you can grow and learn about yourself, just when you think you’ve got things figured out life hands you another load to deal with. All of these challenges and obstacles make me the person I am today, the person I am still growing to be. Although I wish my son was here more then anything, I am accepting why the universe has made things the way they are. I am different now, I can love, understand and empathise on a whole new level.

My new way of thinking, feeling and seeing the world would not be possible if it weren’t for Pharaoh’s short time with us.

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I just want to take the time to thank the few special people in my life. I know I have been absent this whole year, I’ve missed birthdays, engagements, and dinners. I’ve ignored phone calls and text messages – I’ve pretty much been a bad friend. It takes a lot of empathy to understand that my actions were not a personal attack on you or of my feelings toward you, more a reflection of my grief. I didn’t have the energy to maintain a friendship, and you all held me up by not judging me, and you kept the friendship alive even when it came across like I didn’t care.

So thank you for being so selfless and understanding, to me this was priceless and the best kind of support. I can’t promise I will ever be ‘back to normal’ or spontaneous and social like I used to be, but I am still me and I want you to know that I love you very much.

So even though I will feel the emptiness this Christmas, I will still feel enough joy to celebrate our baby’s life and our new little family. Christmas will be a very sad time for a lot of other families in this world. Instead of celebrating with their children by their side, they will be celebrating with them in their hearts. So please take the time to remember these families, I know they will appreciate your thoughts.

In loving memory of

Pharaoh Ireland Bryar – 26.1.13

Max Baker James – 17.12.07

Taya Joy Delbridge – 11.12.12

All the angel babies

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Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us Bianca.

Please don’t forget to visit and ‘like’ Pharaoh’s Page!

x

Spare room of shattered dreams

A few years ago, after we were fed up with getting nowhere on the Ethiopian waiting-but-not-really-waiting list, we decided to try and pursue local adoption.

We chose local adoption over Permanent Care because for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was important for us to legally be parents rather than “guardians” to our child. It also meant something to us that our child would have been relinquished by his/ her parents rather than removed. Finally we also could see ourselves spending periods of time overseas due to work commitments and didn’t know how this would fit in with access visits and DHS regulations.

Now, in hindsight, I can’t be sure if this was the right decision to make – after all, as we heard last week, Permanent Care can definitely be a beautiful and healing option for all involved. In fact, had we pursued Permanent Care we probably would have a family by now, but we weren’t to know that back then. As with every stage along this journey you just have to keep knocking on doors until one finally opens. Unfortunately so far we have just had a lot slammed in our faces.

So anyway, I digress. A few years ago we decided to pursue local adoption. Actually we first went to an information session about it back in 2008 but then decided to knock on the intercountry and IVF doors until our knuckles bled. After attending an information and training session you write a life story that covers the most personal and deepest aspects of your life – from your childhood, to your finances, to your relationship and fertility, and even your sex life. We spent ages trying to make our Life Story stand out from the crowd of crappy word documents. We sent it in to DHS in July 2011 along with references from family and friends.

A blurred up sample of some of our Life Story xo

A blurred up sample of some of our Life Story xo

Then we waited.

A year went by and then we received a phone call saying that they would like to begin our assessment. We were overjoyed and hopeful and nervous for the first time in years! We scrubbed our house from top-to-bottom and prepared for the first interview. We were interviewed twice as a couple and once individually. It was nerve-wracking and exciting and deeply intrusive but we didn’t care. Something was finally happening and we felt closer than ever before.

Before the final safety inspection on our house Mr. Lady Breaks went around affixing safety locks to every cupboard and corner in our house. He put together the Boori cot my mum had bought us during our IVF days. We called together some family and neighbours to lay some soil in the backyard of our newly built house. We wanted to show: WE ARE READY. WE WERE BORN READY.

After this our lovely social worker wrote up her report on us and recommended us for adoption. We sat with her before a panel of DHS staff who grilled us on everything from our intentions to our religion. A few hours later we received the call to say we had been officially approved for local adoption! It was September 2012.

Our social worker said that our chances were quite good. After all we were young, probably one of the youngest couples waiting, and our file stood out. It could actually happen before the end of the year even. I was so distracted. I couldn’t focus on the thesis I was supposed to be writing, or on my work. My heart leapt at every phone call.

Unfortunately our social worker moved on from her role and we were handballed to someone else whom we didn’t know at all. We didn’t feel like she “got” us, and we certainly aren’t a priority. I think I have received about two touch-base phone calls over the past year. Not to demonise her at all – these social workers have so much to balance and so little time that facilitating adoptions often gets the last priority. Making sure that kids are safe is of course always going to come first.

So here we are… We were removed from the intercountry list when we were approved for local adoption, and I guess now I’m just waiting for this door to slam shut like all the others. Mid-way through next year we will have to get reassessed because our approval is only valid for two years.

Last weekend Mr. Lady Breaks dismantled the cot and hid all of our baby items away in a cupboard. Even though we could in theory get a phone call any day, reality begs to differ, and it’s too painful to have a shattered dream set up in your spare room.

Instead, Mr. Lady Breaks is setting up an art space for me – a place where I can start dream again. Thank you Mr. Lady Breaks, I couldn’t have walked this without you.

xo

White Ribbon Day

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Chances are you know someone who is suffering violence in their home. Chances are that they haven’t told you about it, or maybe they don’t even know that what is happening to them is actually abuse. The statistics are astounding: One in three Australian women over the age of 15 report physical or sexual violence at some time in their lives. Yes, report, not suffer. This means that the actual rates are much, much higher.

Today I have the absolute honour of sharing one very courageous woman’s story. Corina and I have been friends since high school. She is a fabulous writer and journalist, and one of the most honest, genuine, crass and loyal cat lovers I know. She is also a tireless campaigner against abuse, especially when it comes to violence against women.

I’m constantly inspired by women who face fear head on and speak out about injustice and hardships. It breaks the silence and stigma around personal struggles, and it gives voice and hope to all those who have been silenced. Thank you Mena for putting in to words what so many women can’t. x

Corina’s story:

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In Australia, one woman is killed every week by a partner or former partner. The sorts of men who commit these crimes pass us every day in the street. Men in suits, men at the gym, the man in front of you at the checkout, the man walking his dog. Domestic violence is woefully under-reported, and it’s a sad fact that these statistics are probably inaccurate; the amount of women who suffer and die from abuse is likely to be much higher.

I am one of the lucky ones. I have not had a boyfriend hit me. I have however, been a victim of domestic abuse. Violence is not always physical. It can’t always be spotted with a black eye or a broken arm. Emotional abuse is even more common though, and it leaves a mark. I want to tell you about my mark, the one I got in my very first relationship.

*Alex was twenty five when I met him, and I had just turned eighteen. Ecstatic to have just come of age, I had the world to conquer, and conquer it I did, with a steady routine of driving my parents’ car, voting, having anonymous sex, and enjoying an almost daily dose of partying all night long with my friends. I was intelligent, attractive and confident. I was also naïve.

Alex had been raised in a violent house himself. His father was a recovering alcoholic and his mother, now living in a different state after abandoning the family, had spent much of his childhood years telling him how useless he was. Alex considered himself a fuck-up. And he wasn’t far wrong.

He fell in love with me on sight. In case you were wondering, this in itself is a massive red flag, but I was too innocent to know it. I believed that Alex’s devotion to me was pure, that I was special to him and that even though he had more experience than I did, he had never loved a woman quite like he had loved me and that we would be together forever.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Like with every other recorded case of domestic abuse, it began slowly. Subtle things, like feelings of insecurity when I went out with my friends, jealousy because another man had looked at me. Gradually though, it became more dominant, and I found myself watching my mouth, careful not to step out of line. If I said something to make him angry, he would drive recklessly, whipping his car around corners and darting in and out of traffic to frighten me into behaving. He refused to wear a condom when we had sex, and he would slyly try to coerce me into doing things that I told him I didn’t want to do. When I talked about returning to study, he forbade me to do it. He would stop speaking to me and refuse to talk to my friends if they interfered with our time together. He talked me out of exercising because if I lost weight, I would “be hot” and not want to be with him anymore. One time when I ventured the idea of overseas travel, he bashed his dog.

So why didn’t I “just leave”?

Because I needed him.

At the time, I was having a lot of trouble with my family. They couldn’t accept that I was in an adult relationship and they made their displeasure very obvious. They were rude to Alex, treating him like a second class citizen, and Alex, with all his hang ups about being a failure, needed half an excuse to fight. Soon they were alienated from my life, along with all the friends who told me that he was bad news. One person after the other was eliminated until I had no one left. I could see what was happening around me, but whenever I would stand up to him he would threaten to leave me, telling me I was too good for him and I deserved better. I was so scared of losing him, I stopped fighting. I gave in to his every tantrum and whim.

It’s true that hindsight is twenty-twenty. Alex picked me for a reason. I was young and foolish, in love for the first time and willing to do anything to keep my man happy. He wasn’t with women his own age, who were more likely to recognise his manipulation for what it was. He chose a silly little eighteen year old who wanted to defy her parents and fall head over heels in love. I was easy to control, easy to trap.

That relationship was not physically violent. Of course, the signs were all there that it would have eventually become so, but I don’t like to think about that. After a few months of lying, cheating and doing drugs behind my back, I became too much trouble to deal with, and Alex left me for someone more easy going. That relationship of course failed as well, and the last I heard of Alex he was living alone, unable to maintain healthy romances and with a fractured relationship with his family. He still does drugs and he is still verbally abusive.

I get asked a lot why I “dwell” on this story. Well, the truth is that most days, it is the furthest thing from my mind. I am grateful to the experience with Alex, it played a huge part in making me who I am today. But I tell this story because it’s important. Domestic abuse is not always a broken nose or fingerprint bruising. It is subtle. It can be sexual, financial, or physical. But most commonly, it is emotional. It bullies and belittles, leaving the victim feeling pathetic and lost, with only their perpetrator as a source of comfort. It happens to both men and women, to teenagers, to the elderly, to same sex couples, to children and even in platonic friendships. I tell you this story because it happens everyday. It is probably happening to someone you know right now.

Never tell her to “just leave.” Do not ask her why she stays. If you or somebody you know needs help, go to www.whiteribbon.org.au or www.wdvcs.org.au for services, counselling and how to provide help. You can stop it before it happens again.

Corina Thorose

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Thank you Corina for sharing this all-too-common story. Your honesty and bravery is inspiring!

To hear more from Corina you should check out either of her two (!) blogs. She reviews films, theatre shows, events and more on ‘In my Humble Opinion‘ and her newest venture is ‘Their own Bells‘, a blog that showcases the lives of inspiring women.

xoxo

This post just wouldn't have been complete without a cat gif. Thanks Mena! Source: http://canv.as/p/s0vna/reply/1307507

This post just wouldn’t have been complete without a cat gif. Thanks Mena!
Source: http://canv.as/p/s0vna/reply/1307507