The Bottom of the Hill.

Hills and more hills as far as the eye can see.

On the outskirts of town, they ebb and they flow. Looking like a far off distant land you could easily explore and conquer like a Burke and Wills expedition.

Why is it you feel like screaming and crying and dying as you walk up a hill, wanting to stop every breath, every step, but as soon as you stretch your whole body and reach the top, you feel like a queen; an athlete; a champion! Adrenalin pumping through all of the pulsing, hilly veins inside. Wanting to feel this way forever. Hooked.

When my mum was my age, she had birthed and mothered four children. She was in the midst of a life running a household containing a 15-year-old, a 14-year-old, a 10-year-old and a 4-year-old.

She had at 37, already lived in a shack my parents had built with their own hands as newlyweds, on the side of a hill, in the middle of nowhere.

Their first year of marriage and they had no electricity, no indoor toilet a new baby and snakes and spiders to contend with. She was 21. On the side of a hill.

They then went on and raised the rest of their brood, on a huge, flat, dusty property with a long, long dirt driveway. She handled it all bravely. The kids, the cows, the dust, the wheat crops and dad..worrying about the rain, the drought and making ends meet. Despite the flatness there she could still look out across the plains and see hills on the horizon, warily keeping an eye on them – closer then she wanted them to be. She was focused on staying strong and keeping a household running, she had no time to enjoy ups or wallow in downs so she kept charging on and planted her life firmly where it was flat.

I have wondered lately how she coped with it all? She did not have cafe dates with girlfriends, cocktails or book clubs, hiking or wine tasting weekends…or the freedom to throw a tantrum and hurl herself under a mountain of doona to Netflix and chill.

So it is her that I think about now, on the edge of that hill of hers. Her and that incredible strong will, as I face plant my bed and give up.

As I dig my way through all of my hills and tell them to all go to hell.

I am sick of the climb, sick of hurting as I scrape my skin from my legs – only getting half way up before I slide down again in the rubble and rocks and muck, sore from straining my neck to look up and see where I long to be.

I have had enough, so today I quit. I give up, resigning myself to the fact it is too hard to reach the top.

I am sick of the injections, the nausea, the headaches, the cramps, the negatives, the scans, people mourning, dying, leaving my job and trying to stay positive; more scans, more injections, turning around and pregnant bellies and newborn babies everywhere swirling around me, not knowing who I am or where I should be; up the hill, down the hill, round the hill? I am sick of the waiting. Waiting until I am suddenly told I am over the hill and it is too late.

So today I am going to just quit and surround myself with soft hills of pillows and bedding filled with feathers. Diving into doonas, hugging hot water bottles and a call to my mum today because the hill is shitty and she will tell me what to do.

Maybe next week I will feel like I can strap my hiking boots back on ready to go forth again. Maybe I will be surprised by how light those heavy boots suddenly feel.

Maybe by then I will look out across the Autumn afternoon and feel OK when I see those hills on the horizon.

Thinking about how at least I am not on the side of one of them, doing a wee in the dark.

 

Em xoxo

Cocoon

emotional-baggageToday.

It feels like a spectacular floaty, peach cobbled dress, with oodles of shoulder draping; breezy wings to billow behind as I descend down a long staircase.
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It feels like I can do it all with a wink and a smile.

Like that sun is hung just for me to warm the top of my head and the roses of my cheeks.

I have never, ever felt as good about being me as I do right this moment, and to think it is only going to get better the more baggage I hurl out of the window, smashing it onto the tar – clothes flying out everywhere in a trail behind me as I go.

 

It has nothing to do with any tedious daily events, or who I am in the company of; what I am supposed to have reproduced by now or where I lay my head.

It has everything to do though with waking up from a long, long slumber. Opening my eyes and seeing how strong I am and how easy I can be where I need to be. Slipping my toes from the comforting hammock that held me and my worry, my sadness, my fears down onto the cold floor.
Cocooned for so long; wrapped up in a sea-weedy, salty ocean of blankets and comfort and warmth as I thrashed around kicking and fighting it all endlessly – before finding myself giving in.

Flopping as I floated and bobbed along on top of it all, lifelessly. Curling up at the end of a hard day of dealing with what I had become. Pathetically submissive; submersive. To be suffocated by all of it for so long, years and years in fact. So completely exhausting all of my bones and my aching tired muscles. Knowing that what I was immersed in, was an overwhelming and heavy feeling of being totally out of control and totally unable to dig myself out of the giant hole I had fallen down.
I have been so miserable – deeply miserable, for so long.
And I did not even know it.
I didn’t know you could still laugh, and buy raspberry tea and pick apples and wash your hair with pretty shampoo and be so completely miserable.
I didn’t know people saw me so much worse than I ever saw myself.

I didn’t know you could wear a fancy dress and dance under the lights and not realise you were still invisible.

I was only miserable within myself, about myself – everything external was just dandy, delightful, dreamy. Inside though it was concrete – heavy, sad concrete that weighed me down for a long time. I had put on the brave face, the lipstick, the clothes for so long I started to believe that I was just fine. Then I rubbed my lipstick off, smudgy and thick and I instead hid myself from everyone. I tricked myself. So much so, I didn’t even know I was playing hide and seek. Saying no to anything that involved people showing up as assessors, of the damage I had done to myself.

It hurt my shoulders the most; the weight of the failure; the weight of the complex intricate things that made me; and the weight of…the weight. It was all about the way I held my weight – tied it down under a microscope and focused on it forever and a day.

It all was about the way I held my failings –  forever and a day. Holding myself down against my will. Exhausting.

For the first time ever I have reached a point where I have fought myself and won; I have put myself first and it has worked. I have been able to see my way out of an impossible situation. I have found my old self again and at the same twirly, giddy moment I have found a new me I have not met before. Whenever I said ‘oh no I cannot face you with this face,’ I meant I could not face me.

I always thought I was an outsider – my whole life. Never fitting in, never truly belonging, always watching from the sidelines wanting desperately to be wanted, for someone to hoist me up on a pedestal even but for a moment.

I know now how brilliant and bright and god damn good I am.

I am not a stretch and pulled cartoon. I am a Matisse, a Klimt a sparkly Van Gogh!

I have peachy, billowy chiffon all around me. Life couldn’t be any better.

A B-52 Bomber, dumping the bags and crap and the weight as I fly.

I am the lightest I have ever been.

No need for a cocoon today.

Em xx

The Passenger.

I once lived in a small terrace house, in a quiet Cooks Hill street.

I was 22, naïve to life and completely hooked on this new found young, single existence from the word go.
A walk to the end of my street revealed book shops and buskers, cafes and old shaded parks.
I lived amongst uni students, street performers, hedonists and elderly cat ladies who fed bread crumbs to birds.
It was a beautiful, special time and it should have been the beginning of a wonderful life, which was bubbling away inside of me.
I was so enamoured with my surroundings that I would constantly soak it all up, take it all in and happily explore people and places around me on my own, discovering the beauty each time I opened my eyes to it all.
Our buttercup terrace houses all lined up in the row, the only way to tell the difference, a pot plant of choice or an old sofa, reflecting those that dwelled inside.
If you walked around Cooks Hill of a night with only moonlight to lead the way, you would often come across two obstacles and they were as equally as iconic to those who lived there; poorly lit root ravaged foot paths to stumble over, and bats…or bat poo to be more specific.

Cooks Hill is a special place by moonlight, I think mostly because of the big overarching fig trees that line the streets and the old faded houses…crickets chirping, bat’s echoes, the gentle slow thumping of a band playing a gig at a local pub close by, it all just seemed so magical to me at the time. A fire twirler lived a few houses down for a while, and would often practice in the street making it even more so.
In summer, I would spend a whole day riding my bike or walking in the hot sun, ending up at the beach. Excited by a new secret spot – a delicious treat for hot, sticky red tinged skin. The best part of the discovery was having to wade through a cool, sparkly channel of water to reach the secluded bay. There I would lay back and soak up the sun’s rays and day dream, constantly day dream.
It really was the time in my life where I developed a sense of love for being on my own and enjoying the peacefulness of my own company. I remember vividly, being so excited for what life had in store for me.
On days when the sun was too hot to venture out, I would open all the windows and doors and perch myself at my bedroom window, which was at the very front of the old creaky house, watching the world go by, pen in hand and note book on my lap.
The late afternoon light as it trickled through the faded lace curtains and onto my blank page, moving in time with the welcomed breeze. It is a feeling and memory that has remained with me always. I can feel the warm sun, see the golden soft sunlight and smell the Cooks Hill scent in the air, Lilac Wine on repeat, drifting down the floor boarded hall.
This is how my mind always saw the world, a day dreamy haze that travelled with me from my childhood.
This is where I first really knew that writing had turned from idle careless jottings and into something so much more.
It didn’t matter what was going on at the time, I had found this space and this thing I could do to pour it all out of me.
A sweet moment in time where everything was golden and sparkly and bathed in that soft afternoon sunlight.
I had never truly struggled before then, I did not really know what pain was.
And I still believed I was going to do something special in life.
Things looked so promising from that window.
I had a handful of close friends who lived in each other’s pockets. I had just finished studying and excited for the career path ahead, and like all girls my age, I had a crush on a boy that quickly twisted into love (or so I thought at the time).
Time however, has a knack for moving things on and this golden moment faded quickly.
The boy only ever threw scraps of himself my way, and the more I pulled and grasped the less he gave.
I was miserably unable to get a foot in the door of my chosen career path at the time, which was being heavily guarded by a bullying, pit bull of lady who held the key, and I was too scared and doubtful of myself to ever question her…to speak up.
I was also suddenly mending delicate, fractured friendships that had not pulled through a rough time unscathed.
Things kind of just tumbled on from there…inevitably my first bout of depression hit me soon after too.

It didn’t take long though for life to get back on track.

New friends slowly came along, old friends became good friends once more, career opportunities appeared, and most luckily for me another boy came by, who gave me all of himself and brought along the sunshine with him.

I guess I am thinking about Cooks Hill and being 22, and this lovely moment in time because it is the last memory I have before life kind of happened…somehow, so fast.

And now here I sit.

I have become the very worst thing possible. A passenger.

I walked down my old street a few days ago, and it all came flooding back to me.
There are far less fig trees, the pavement is still crackly and bumpy beneath my feet, and the small cottages are all with fresh coats of paint and porches filled with on trend furniture, audis parked out the front. It still has that certain charm though and feels like a big warm hug.

It also gave me a long hard look at myself, and walking down the same street, I realised I was the exact same person that I was at 22. Only age and a few curves the difference on the outside, on the inside – a little less naive and a little wiser.

I also thought, if I am not careful in 20 years’ time it will be the same story.

I went home that night and not only looked at a few writing courses as I have done a million times before, but I actually have started applying for some. Fear and self-doubt can certainly appear, but this time they will be the passenger and I am calling the shots.
We are always told by those who have lived a full long life, that a life not lived and embraced is one filled with regret.

Why don’t we ever listen to them?
Something else happened to me last week that gave me the little jolt needed.
I was asked by my doctor (doing a routine questionnaire when I came to them with my anxiety) ‘How often do you feel worthless?’, I bravely and truthfully answered, most of the time.
That is not very good.

I don’t want that to be the answer, next time I venture down my old street.
Taking the plunge into writing, is the scariest thing I have ever pushed myself to do, but I have to do it for that starry-eyed 22 year old sitting at her window. I can’t let her down anymore.

I may stumble upon that book shop at the end of my old street one day, and find my own book on it’s shelf. Why not?

I really hope that if you are reading this and wondering what the point of it all is, you also ponder at the same time, on who you were at 22 and what you thought life had in store for you.

Why can’t you make it happen if it hasn’t yet?

Fear just isn’t a good enough excuse to me now.

Sure there will be bat poo and bumps in the road, but you have to push on and do it for yourself, because the alternative is just far too un-sparkly and ordinary to not at least try.
Em xoxo