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It was my birthday last Tuesday.
Birthdays matter to me. Mine and also other people’s (though I admit that I’m not as good at remembering them as I should be): and IDPwD are my sacred days. Much more so than most of the other Day festivals.
It’s a reflective time for me. I tend to start resolutions and try to start a project. I take myself in hand a bit more on my birthday. This year I had a lot to challenge myself on especially in terms of my character. I’m actively starting to work on some of that now.
Instead of trying for an all year project I’m going to try a 3 month project to actually behave more minimally. Rather than just talk about it and do a rash three-day purge only to go shopping out of boredom or a mix between boredom (3 or 4 things) mixed in with the 1 thing I actually really needed.
So these are my rules (subject to change with reflection)
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I might be a little late in coming to this conversation. At least in the written form. But I’m here now and I’ve had a bit of time to think and listen and observe and try to absorb too.
It’s been personal. I’ve felt attacked and rejected by some of my dearest people. For me in a different way to others. But yes for me too. Less than others I’m sure. But I was surprised. It’s about love after all, not about me.
I might be more used to the personal is political mindset than some. There has been an undercurrent that the Question is a referendum on the very value of a whole segment of society. From that segment too has been a sense that “its us against the rest of you”, and “either your with us or you are against us”. All the nastiness and extremism of trying to generalise a few bad examples or rogue statistics as representing the whole. All the judgement and all the fear that goes along with being a minority, through no fault of one’s own. It hurts. Keeping all these segmentation up hurts too. Individually and collectively. It may have become political but Questions like this don’t have to stay like that. But that’s a tough balance.
Within Australia at the moment we are having an ongoing debate regarding same-sex marriage or marriage equality as it has been dubbed. It’s been a warm and getting hotter topic for years. The Question: should same-sex attracted couples be included in the Marriage Act (which currently defines marriage as being between a man and a woman), and more recently, if there is to be a change in the law, how do we go about doing it.
Any revision could have been done by a revision of an act by Parliament which at least until recent dramas would have probably been simpler and cheaper. It is also outside a Constitutional change so falls exactly within the role we commission our elected representatives to do. They are charged to lead and govern our country, We “trust” them for a term to debate and decide the difficult and the easy; not deflect difficult ones to opinion polls which are not binding.
Whatever my view of the Question Let me say that I think Australia has lost its sense of statesmanship and become all too reactionary to opinion polls and the deflecting of responsibility for leadership. The decision was taken to elect our current Prime Minister and his view was clear. His job was to listen and lead the government and parliament to a consensus.
So we are having a plebiscite which is a cop out in my view. All the opinion poll will do is take a snapshot view of a politically jaded country. The Act will still need to be debated and drafted adding delay and drama whichever way the plebiscite goes.
The debate has been hard and cruel in both directions. Given my situations I have been attacked quite viciously from vocal, fundamentalist members of both main camps. The misinformation and generalisations coming from both directions has been hard to watch and has affected my thinking.
I have a faith in God. My faith which feels more alien to what is being touted as Christian than ever informs my take on social justice. I’m less judgemental and more liberal as regards many issues precisely because of my faith. I also believe that it is not for people who are not privy to my understanding of God to represent their views as mine or are tell me how I or anyone should interpret scripture. A brother or elder is allowed to offer correction and instruction , but no one speaking in this debate has that role in my life. So stop telling me how to decide Rev/Fr never met you just because I have a faith. Jesus is my middle man to God, if I need one, not you, and his approach to love (and a whole lot of other stuff) was quite radical. Y’know stuff like Judge not let Ye be judged, love your neighbor as yourself. All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. *I don’t think love can ever be a sin, but even if even if it is, by fundamentalist theology we all have to face our Maker and our reckoning will be between that person and God. It is not up to me to judge. Or you.
We don’t sit in harsh judgement of whether a straight marriage will work to anywhere near the extent that some of you do with a same-sex relationships. The stats are not good for straight couples, leaving plenty of couples missing the Good birth influence of one gender. The same-sex stats put us to shame. Families are built based around who loves who, not who sleeps in what bed. Common sense says that divorces of all types will happen, and when they do, they do. We are all human beings. The sky will not fall. Many kids of straight couples have had a rough upbringing. There will be some kids of same-sex marriages if it comes to that who feel the same. But if we mainstream it, the stigma will go and that will help all kids be kinder. Growing up I would fantasize that everyone had a crappy left arm and a head tilt…… just so I felt normal
There are the full range of people in all communities. Pedaphilia is in the straight world as it is in the gay, just as much if not more. Both sorts are in all the Churches and outside. The good the bad and yes the ugly are across the board. We are commanded to love and not to judge. By our fruit will we know each other, and knowing is different to judging which is in God’s hands. My suggestion is that we are generally built with two ears and one mouth. Let’s try and use them proportionally?
To quote @frbower Fr Rod Bower
“For the religiously inclined to participate productively in the public discourse of a secular democracy, there is required of them the ability (and willingness– JN) to translate theological specifics into universal values, accessible to all people regardless of their faith or lack thereof”
My only request ok, two requests of those fighting for marriage equality: just as you don’t like to be tarred with the paedophile brush on the basis that some of you have been, please don’t judge all of those who claim a faith as being homophobic or for that matter are or condone child abusers. We come in all shapes and sizes too. Some of us are saints and some are down right bastards. Some are loud. Most are not. We are all individuals. Generalisation is dangerous and insulting. Some churches are preaching their view, but you are also using the venues open to you to advertise (as you should). Passion for an issue can be lovingly expressed, by all of us.
My second request is simple I hope. Talk to us all, don’t yell at us. We didn’t choose the plebersite. Issues don’t have to stay political even if they start there. We have had to recognise minorities before in less than ideal ways. We will have to again no doubt. Alienating won’t help your cause or Australia . We are all humans. We have had struggles, which may be different to this or not. You are not alone. I for one am not the enemy. Please talk to me like you are my neighbour, my sibling, best friend, my doctor, my accountant or my barista; about your love and fear and hope and plans. I’ll be listening and so will others.
All in all right now I’m simply ashamed of being a human being in Australia …..We need to behave better . I’m confused, and sad that it came to this.. This has hurt my faith and my faith in people tremendously and that’s not a good place to be if we are discussing love. Is it?
just my 5 cents.
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A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind, from within more than the lustre of the firmament, of birds and sages. Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have been drawn lately, somewhat organically to exploring my own mind. Not in an ego driven way I hope. But this idea that my life is driven by the activity of my thinking mind, its interaction with my heart and spirit and the choices that I make and then act on. Its been strange and yes a bit spooky but most of the books/podcasts/videos etc that I have looked at especially in the last 12 or so months have in some way teased out this expansion of a sense of responsibility – the ability to choose a response to a situation. Even the choices that I haven’t made and the disciplines I haven’t exerted have also been choices and if and when I have looked carefully at them I have gleamed something out of them too. The self reflection bit has been amusing at times, but mostly, it has been sobering and at the same time when I took time to look and listen for the cues, reassuring and even enchanting.
Please don’t read this as a pseudo “Law of Attraction” mystical/ quantum physics kind of thing. I am not talking about manifesting any of my dreams through anything other than hard work, self management and choice. Some of that for me includes choosing where to focus. Positivity tends to bread positivity, but not from within a vacuum of denial. Rather perhaps from a radical awareness and a choice of the reaction, we learn and can then grow and through these growth spurts we change and then our circumstances change. Even the quick fix solutions to many problems, require both an initial choice (and faith) and some ongoing decisions to work. The meal replacement shakes do not work if the stay packaged up in your cupboard or worse yet waiting for you at the post office.
So the watching the gleam of light that flashes across my mind has been mote apparent. It doesn’t deny my reality or my body but it expands me beyond my body and has meant for me a deeper sense of personhood which is a double edged sword. I have a higher standard to hold myself to, but thankfully more self-forgiveness and internal courage to go with it.
For a long while it was very hard to find the words to explain all this. I have barely scratched the surface of whats going on in my inner being. but it feels good.
Right now I am reassured that life wandering as it feels and the reflection that comes with it. I have might have a purpose or a use in Robert Greene’s Ted talk. Nothing is wasted.
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Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.
© Max Ehrmann 1927
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Apologises. It seems the only time I seem to do a real posts on here these days when I need to vent.
I went on a long journey yesterday to meet an associate in the Western suburbs and then travel with them to the airport. It was a 4 hour round trip. With a change on each leg.
As I got further out from the change at Strathfield I noticed people staring more. People stare at me all the time and everywhere. It was more noticeable because they were fewer words. I used to try to make-believe that it’s because I’m some stunning beautiful mystical creature here to bring peace or just a really hot woman (this particular imagining will become relevant later).
I am used to children staring especially those in prams stuck looking at me in lifts, but even others, and the pointing. And the adults; particularly those who 20 seconds earlier weren’t looking where they were going, and seemed shocked that “it” actually moves. Its odd when kids are dragged in one direction while staring back at me: parents disengaged.
Each time anyone stares it does tug at me. It wears me down. It accumulates. I’m not a circus animal.This is not the zoo. I don’t come with a label stuck to my cage (wheelchair) explaining my feeding schedule and breeding. I didn’t charge admission. I’m just trying to get through Life unscathed. By the 5th stare or glare (about 10 am most days) I want the ground to swallow me up and leave it to the Real Humans.
I know in the case of a child its curiosity. I get that. I try to be gentle. Really I do. I try to smile back. I used to try to say hello but these days that doesn’t seem to be well received especially with those of different cultures. I smile at the parents and get a stare back or a sheepish look or a glare for daring to speak to their child. So, in the case of the lift, after receiving whatever look I’m going to get I retreat. I crawl backwards, missing the days before the baby boom meaning that everywhere that works for me there go many prams/families which for me is super tough as I would love to be a Mum of some sort but it isn’t going to happen.
It used to be parents told their kids not to stare.
Now no one says anything.
It used to be parents told their kids it was rude
So I could hear
Now they join in
It used to be kids were told to ask questions of me
when tugging and whispering on Mum’s arm
Now silence or adults ask their own
CG chose to use the stairs. Lucky him. To not get squashed or make more room for more of the same or not be seen with me. I’m not sure which. I wished I could join him. It’s why I use ramps. I control the pace.
So I went it alone.
Somewhere close to Blacktown a gentleman got on, elderly but not super old. English was not his first language. He sat on the opposite side of the carriage, in a pink polo shirt and pants. Looking at me, staring at me. I tried to ignore him, but could feel his eyes on me so that the hairs on my arm stuck up. I tried to ignore it as usual, but it felt strange.
My bag was next to CG and I sat next to the door with the glass between us having allowed for prams to pass me. I only put my face mask on sporadically. (can’t get an infection at the moment so should have been wearing it but people seem to lipread me more than hear me so I’d taken it off). I coughed so retrieved mask and put it on. Pink Shirt looked relieved. Oh dear.
It was obvious CG and I knew each other as I sometimes sat side on to face him. Approaching Lidcome or so CG was asked “how old is he”?, and stared back at me. I pulled down my mask so he could see my face which despite my Sinead O’Conner look still I hoped looked feminine complete with the floral dress I was wearing the wedge heals and the eye make up. I said softly but firmly I’m a woman. I said it twice. I didn’t yell it because I didn’t want to make a scene.
But that was not the point. He wasn’t looking to me for answer. CG eventually said “It’s not polite to ask a woman her age”. I stared away, into space and willed my eyes to stay dry. I wanted to get off the train, change carriage (not allowed given the need for the ramp to get off), anything but stay there.
In fact my world got hypersensitive and claustrophobic and I felt alone. Pink Shirt told me at one point to be happy. I think I grimaced and sent CG a text he didn’t comment on. As Pink was disembarking at Redfern he held his hands up in my direction, arms length. Was it prayer or a remote laying on of hands (which I love — not), or an act of warding off evil spirits. No idea.
CG seemed to distance himself even further from me. I noticed that. Can’t say I blame him. Later I had to remind him he’d said he wanted a hug goodbye and he seemed to want that to be over as soon as humanly possible as soon as someone else rang, only really interacting with me when no one else could see. Can’t blame him.
It wasn’t just the gender issues. Maybe he meant she but didn’t have the language. I get that. It was the fact that I have to be ready to hear questions like that whenever I leave the house. I’m public property. Even if I choose not to answer them. Even if I say they are rude. I may not get them, but I must be ready. The vigilance is exhausting but the minute I try and sit in a pleasant corner of my brain I get caught with defences down and it hurts more. It is the fact that he felt ok about staring at me and asking a 3rd person about me. If I’d been an upright I doubt he would’ve, of if he did, more than CG would have noticed and objected.
I hear this happens to pregnant women too. Touching bellies, asking due dates etc. I get that. There are differences. Pregnancy is a time limited state undertaken usually by choice and with a reward at the end. I’ve been pregnant for long enough now. I want out. Its also publicly discouraged to touch bellies.
I know that in most cases it’s no individual or child’s intention to insult. That most people are just trying to be nice or are curious but it does accumulate.I try and be gracious. I want to go back to hibernation.
It was a long day and I’m not sure of the value.
I don’t know why, but this feels like an important post. If you like this or know me can you please send it on to someone else? J
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I’m still at the bottom of the well. But I guess the Sharks aren’t circling. Many of the symptoms I spoke of yesterday are still present. Strongest are numbness including in my hands, hypersensitivity to noise (and light today), easily overwhelmed and if I had to pick an emotion it would be sadness.
The well doesn’t yet have a staircase which is my usual way I get out from under. But there is no water, or sharks and now I can see light on the edges. Just a sliver mind you and it feels like glare (see above).
It still feels very debilitating. But I am about to leave the house. I saw my counsellor yesterday, which was reassuring but travelling to and from was really really tough.
Thank you to those that reached out.
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I’m not at all sure about the wisdom of saying this here. Or anywhere really. But I’m depressed. I woke up this morning feeling like I’m at the bottom of the well that has been my occasional companion and constant shadow and fear on and off for over 20 years. I have been stressed for weeks (with ample reason, though no single cause) and low for the weekend. But this morning is different again. Here I sit. Alert. But trapped. Or not. At the bottom of a familiar well with no edges. I don’t know if I have the strength to climb back up again. When the stresses and uncertainties will mostly still be there. For the term of my natural life.
I don’t want to scare those of you who know me offline. I’m safe enough. I recognised the well and organised to see my counsellor and that I’m not alone till then. I’m safe enough. I don’t feel like I have the strength to commit suicide.
Its everything and nothing. It’s the little things and the big things. It’s feeling like I’m a ship lost at sea. Its feeling like I’m being suffocated. It’s feeling lonely, misunderstood, neglected and abused. It’s feeling crowded and isolated at the same time. It’s the core busting sense that I really don’t matter unless I’m there, or achieving, or paying. Even to myself. It’s wanting to be alone or surrounded by love. Its feeling exhaustd just facing food or leaving the house.
Its the blanket of hopeless that means I can’t see anything beyond the next breathe. It’s being able to see too far ahead and not liking what I see or don’t see. It’s hearing nothing and being hypersensitive to noise. It’s the physical pain. It’s the disconnect. It’s trying to keep things light and social and being haunted at night regardless of if I fail or succeed. It’s remembering everything, but recalling nothing. Too much to do at once, too much I want oo change and not enough. It’s all the dichotomies. I can justify them all as stressors. But it doesn’t really matter.
For example It’s the hard drive crashing just as I was to achieve something I have wanted after other uncontrollable delays and taking most of 2 essays with it. It’s the fact that faced with rewriting them my mind is blank and any hope is gone. Its disrespect on the footpaths. It’s being made to use the back door and still make it ok. Its bank transfers that won’t work, despite funds and doing many successfully. It’s thinking through every phonecall I make and if I should make it and still getting it it wrong, like so much else. Trying to do the right thing and getting it so wrong. It’s being put on pause and pulled through the emotional mud for $300 and a box of stuff. But I matter right?
These are just some examples. Not that it is the events in life that has done this. It just is where I am.
I am not sure about if I should post this, but maybe it’ll help someone else going through it. Falling quickly like I tend to do is part of the fear.
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I’ve taken a self directed modified vow of silence for a few days. I just want to slow my mind down a bit and slowing my speech down will help me do that. I need to reflect and grow. I want to develop some more discipline even in just keeping this commitment. I enjoy feeling safe enough to be quiet and I want to now reinforce that I can be my own safe space. I want to choose the words that go through my mind. Time with fewer words will help.
Yes there were a couple of situations that triggered this, but right now they aren’t important. This is gaining peace, not running from pain.
I intend to do my life as normal. This is not a retreat so much as a practise. But neither am I wanting to become a Trappist monk. This is a modified vow.a vow of no vocal chord use, even on my own while still leading my life in public.
I will write notes, on paper, ipad, SMS. Email and phone (iMessage/SMS) will still be on and checked and replied to but probably phone will be on do not disturb a little more.i have noticed just by typing or scribbling one chooses how to speak differently.
If you want to avoid me in this time ok, but I would still like to see you if we have plans or a practise in doing so. I hope to listen well and show you without noise that I am with you. I have predetermined three situations in the next 14 days where I will speak if I’m still not but they aren’t social events and if you are reading this then it’s safer to assume I’ll be silent till I’m not.
I’m not doing this to annoy or embarrass or avoid you or the world. It will be a discipline for a predetermined number of days to slow myself down, lower my guard with myself and develop mindfulness, grace and clarity among other things. Iits not a game nor is this a spur of the moment attention grab. I’m ok all things considered.
Music, movies etc will be a part of my day still
This website gives the closest description of both the how and the why. But it is not a replica.
Like her, I don’t really want to talk about the process much. Not till later. I hope to hear from you (better) or see you around.i hope to smile and nod a lot.
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