Journal Entry

Thirty

I turned 30. A few days later Mum turned 60. 30 years ago I was born. It was a Tuesday. The doctors fucked up her C-section so she spent her 30th in the hospital; sick as a dog. Dad visited with my brothers and sister. They brought a sponge cake. It wasn’t the grandest of birthdays. Once they realised they’d left clamps inside her they opened her up again, got them out, and she recovered.

I turned 30 on a Thursday. No fanfare. No spongecake but I had my health. Over the years I’ve grown to the idea that we share a birthday together. A handful of days is all that separates them, but between us a lifetime of experience. At 30, Mum was married with 4 children of which I forever remain the youngest. When I turned 30 I was (and am) single. No kids and painfully alone.

It’s a fight. A struggle. 30 years ago though Mum was fighting in a war. She wanted out of the marriage I know, and it’d be a few more years yet until she gathered the strength for that offensive.

10 years ago I would have seen a multitude of differences between us. Not at all able of connecting the dots to see how we are alike. Today, I see a plethora of similarities that truly connect us.

In the 30 years since I was born Mum has found new purpose. Indomitable strength and vision. My first 30 years have been a muddle of soul-searching, struggles and discovering who I am. We’ve walked different paths that lead to the same destination. Thanks for being that guiding light Mum. Happy birthday to us.

Journal Entry

21/11/2018

If love is a rose then I’ve always wrapped my palm around those thorns and held onto it like a rodeo bronco. It hurts like hell but I can still smell the flower can’t I? I’m addicted to feeling. I’m addicted to feeling for I rarely feel much. Not to do a disservice to my friends and family but I’m someone who feels in extremes. What draws reaction from me is those highest of highs and sometimes unfortunately, those dark depths. So I spend most of my time not feeling much. I shuffle. I shamble. I meander through the park that is called life. I’m that solitary man sitting on the park bench staring into the distance. Not staring at anything or anywhere in particular. Just, staring.

Love to me is an awakening. If I see in black and white, these feelings bleed my vision into colour. I begin to see beyond myself. Seeing what could be. Seeing what can be. Seeing what two can achieve. Love inspires me. It fills my glass that’s sometimes half-empty, otherwise half-full. Feeling the love of another ensures I never fail. It empowers me. I never fail because I’d never quit. No task is too big, too hard or arduous. I fight with tenacity to keep that light of love to guide me.

However love for me now means the unknown. It means saying goodbye when I don’t want to. It means I don’t know where we’re going or even if there’ll ever be a we. Love has become a stranger. I grasp in the blinding dark to find only to find where she once was. Dark because my love scares her I think. Where I see open plains in the most fruitful valley in the land of opportunity, I believe she see’s a single path carving through the depths of a mountain to an already determined destination.

Love gets lost in translation. I struggle to explain my love sometimes. I just want them to understand. Here’s an attempt.

We’re driving down a highway. You’ve got the wheel. We don’t know where we’re going but we’ll figure it out. You thought you wanted to go to the beach but maybe now we’re headed to the mountains. I don’t mind ’cause I’m happy to do it with you. I’m playing DJ. It’s equal parts eye-rolls and karaoke. It’s an adventure we’re both figuring out. We don’t know if we’ve got enough money. But we’ve got no place to be. We’re scared but it’s alright. I take your hand and give it a squeeze. I give it a squeeze because I’m trying to say I’d go anywhere with you but I don’t know how to say it without my heart skipping a beat. And I’m scared. I can see you’re scared too. I want to ask what’s wrong but I also don’t want to rock the boat. I know we’ll fight at some point. I’ll say something stupid or I’ll really push my luck with my song choices. But it’s OK. I could never hate you. You’re my person. I know you and you know me.

You’ve got the wheel. I want you to have your journey. Your adventure. I just want to enjoy the drive with you. And take stupid pictures. I love you and I’m just as scared as you.

Au revoir.

Journal Entry

To all those I’ve loved before

I’ve always asserted that I’ve known what love is. To love and to be loved in return. However, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that my understanding, of this broad but complex emotion, is a little off. Fresh off the back of some emotional trauma (self-inflicted) I turned the looking glass inward.

It wasn’t easy for me to admit that through my perceived righteousness I’d become the monster. Looking back across a decade at all my past “loves” I can only pinpoint a handful of individuals of whom I’d convinced myself I loved wholeheartedly. To those I’ve loved before, I’m truly sorry. I never loved you selflessly or put you first. You supported me. You kept me aloft. You kept me sane. But mostly, you kept me from having to look at myself.

But I did just that. I looked at myself. My own Picture of Dorian Gray. It was distressing. But I do not wish to make a sympathizer of the reader here. I am no victim. I’m a soon-to-be 30 year old man. I should know better. Frankly I do know better or rather, I did know better. I just didn’t recognise my actions for their toxicity at the time.

The core of it though is that I’ve loved selfishly. I always have. Not to assign blame but rather to look for where it began, I looked at my childhood. My parents divorced when I was quite young. I had fleeting and infrequent contact with my dad over the years. Mum spent a great deal of time not at home. Mum did her best to support us and get things done. I’ll never truly know how hard she had it but I suspect she did what she did to a) work to support us and b) it was very hard on her and it was easier to be distracted elsewhere and if she worked hard enough, she’d make up for it later.

Being the youngest of four, that left me at the end of a line of people that were all looking up. Looking up for validation, love, guidance and accolades. It wasn’t a bad scenario. I’m not crying neglect. Looking back I don’t feel neglect, it just was. But despite the relative normality of not being subjected to excessive parenting, it still left a part of me gnawing  for more. I was a child. I had friends. I had friends who’s parents adulated their achievements or school marks. I saw the way I thought things should be.

The hardest thing for me as a young man after having left school and trying to find my place was figuring out who I was doing it for. I never did anything for myself. Even to this day the only time I will do something for myself is if I can frame it through the lens of how my actions improve someone else’s life. So that they will recognise what I’ve done and in turn praise me for it. I create an expectation of praise – this is what is dangerous.

And herein lay my  dark and damaging demons. I am emotionally handicapped. I am dependent. I depended on you. If I ever encouraged you to exercise its because I wanted you to do the same to me. When I asked about your day or wished you well it’s only because I wanted you to do the same to me. I loved you because I needed you to love me. I needed you to love me because I couldn’t or rather, I was never taught how. But it wasn’t that I was never taught, I also willfully remained ignorant. It was easier to paint the sob story and play victim than it was to stop and stare down the monster in the mirror.

I’m sorry that I placed you upon a pedestal without ever giving any regard as to whether you even wanted to be there. I’m sorry I tried to occupy as much space in your life that I could so that I felt relevant. I’m sorry if I ever mined sympathy from you to cultivate connection in order to derive value. I’m sorry I misguided you. I’m sorry that I made not living up to my expectations your problem. I’m sorry for creating drama when there was never any need for it.

Thank you, for who I am today and who I hope to be tomorrow. I know the way forward. May the next person I love be for the right reasons. I hope in time you’ll forgive me.

Journal Entry

It’s been a while

I haven’t posted anything for some time. Now evidently most of what I write here is for me as I don’t have an audience or much of one. Having an audience was never my intent. My intent was to put my thought onto a platform; into the ether. To be read, or not to be read but none the less, out there.

It’s been a rough year since I stopped pouring things out of my head. I’ve been in a confused and stressed head space. To tell the truth I’m not sure why I allowed it to occur. I say allow because it honestly was a slow accumulation of inaction across many areas of my personal and professional lives which culminated in the first major change in direction for me in over 7 years.

I’ve come to realise life is this funny old thing. A lumbering steam train that continues along the track regardless of whether you want it to or not. Travelling along there’s a great number of things that you can do to smooth the ride and even control which forks you take. But these undertakings require direct action and a responsible soul to carry the burden of those choices. I’ve been leaning on the side of inaction for some time now.

The tracks I’ve been hurtling down had fallen into disrepair. The ride had become bumpy nigh to the point of fear of derailment at any moment. But up until my moment of epiphany I thought there was little I could do. Powerless to exercising any modicum of control. Oh how wrong I have been. I realised however that my inaction was in fact a choice, not the absence of one. I had chosen to allow everything to take its deteriorating course. Luckily for I the cure was an easy one.

Take ownership. Make choices. Create change. I will no longer atrophy physically, mentally and emotionally.

Depression truly is a motherfucker. It’s caused me so much grief, stretched me to my limits and tested those I love dearly whilst they see me flip between victim and sage; being needy but then refusing assistance. Days spent lying in a fog reaching out to a select few that I abuse as emotional crutches. Cursing my isolation but negating to see how I have isolated myself. I sometimes imagine myself as a prisoner constructing the very walls around me whilst actively cursing the warden to release me. The warden steps forward and to my surprise is wearing my face.

I’m sorry to those who have felt disappointment in me, feel exhausted by me or who have lost patience with me. I thank you for choosing the kindness in not expressing it. I won’t let you down.

 

Journal Entry

11/06/2017

It’s been nearly 6 months since Dad passed away. I think I’m fortunate that looking back now, I don’t have any regrets with how our time was spent; there’s no part of me that looks back and wishes things were different. Ultimately, everything that passed between us, every interaction and shared moment, defined and shaped our relationship and helped nurture the peace I feel now. In those last few days watching him sleep, hearing him breath, I truly loved him. I am forever grateful that he was half the reason I came to be, despite 20 years protesting it.

I think most of the issue was I only ever looked at Dad through the lens of a son. I only allowed or rather, wanted him, to exist and behave as a father alone. I refused to see him as his own man who had his own dreams, loves, passions or ambitions, instead I tried to frame him around how I perceived he failed. He was a flawed man who I held up to the flame of my ideals yet acted surprised when the image burned to cinders. In the end though, I’m glad I was there and I know he was glad too.

Despite his brain tumour constantly shredding his faculties from him, I look back on our last 10 months and can count more beautiful moments than we’d shared in the last 10 years. What struck me the most was the day I was out walking him in his wheelchair through streets from his youth and we were talking about the years I spent farming. At the time, Dad was always insistent that the life I was leading was beneath me and I ought to move home and go to university or study in some capacity to forge a more financially viable career. I reminded him of how often he used to berate me for sticking it out so long and he was stunned.

Dad said to me “did I really say all those things? I didn’t really say that to you did I?”

“Yeah mate you did, but it’s long gone now so don’t worry about it”.

“I’m sorry I said those things Nicholas, working as a farmer was the best thing that ever happened to you and I’m proud”.

Who would have known that this short exchange absolved 27 years of my angst.

I miss you mate.

Journal Entry

24/05/2015

Dear Nick,

I’m writing this to you from that place just over the horizon. We’re two sides of the same coin, you and I. Together we make a whole. We have our differences though. You’ve got some tarnish and grime whilst I shine brightly. However, I only shine the way I do because of your sacrifice. You take all the shit and I receive the accolades. This makes you the better person than I’ll ever be. We’ll never share the same outlook. You’ll never see the world as I do but I hope someday the world looks at you the same way I do. If it’s any consolation I don’t think I’ll ever feel as alive as you do.

Thanks for not giving up yet Nick. We’re in this together.

Journal Entry

27/05/2017

I think you walk through life keeping everyone an arm’s length away. You keep your distance, you keep your heart and your insanity all to yourself. I feel privileged that I’ve gotten with a handspan but I fear for your sake because that gap will never be bridged unless you want it to.

I wouldn’t cross it because that’s not my journey. You’re keeping your distance and until you cross, you won’t grow.