The Goat.

Right now I am doing my usual sitting outside on the daybed under my nest of quilts. I am drinking a whiskey. Well, I’ve mixed it with coke but it’s a strong whiskey because I poured the coke in first and then eyeballed it. I have a black cat to my right. And some rogue stuffing from one of the cushions because when I was babysitting my ex husband’s dog this last week it discovered a hole and pulled the stuffing out and danced in it like it was snowing.

I am writing so I won’t think. Here I am brutally honest, raw as I can be but there is this one thing I cannot write about so instead I am sitting here, drinking a strong whiskey with a cat under a nest of quilts and rogue stuffing and missing my mother who is not in the country.

I want to write because it is cathartic but I can’t write about this one thing so I will write about something else instead. I flick through my memories, sifting them through my fingers and hold them to light trying to find one to dive into. Kind of like that basin in Dumbledore’s office where he can dunk his head like a weird wizard baptism and immerse himself in a memory.

What shall I write about? Pain? Joy? Confusion? Heartache? Love?

Okay, I am going to tell you about my goat.

So, a few years back I learnt to spin, I’ve probably told you about this before. I explained how I like to know exactly how to do something. So I use to knit and crochet and then I wanted to learn to spin, which I did, and then I needed to learn how to process raw fleece and I did. And then I decided I want to ‘grow’ the fleece.

So I find some dude selling baby angora goats and I arrange to pick two up. I didn’t realise until I got these babies that they were literally babies. I was actually pretty devastated thinking about it. I brought them home in a crate and when I took them out I realised they still had little dried umbilical cords on. I judged them to be a few days old. My heart just bled thinking of them missing their mamas and the mamas missing their babies but I knew if I took them back he would just sell them to someone else and that most people would think me some kind of bleeding heart, too soft for the country. Which in some ways I am.

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So I decided I was going to be the best mama to these babies ever. They needed to be fed 6 times a day in the beginning and I warmed their bottles diligently and squatted over them, pressing the nipple of the bottle to their mouth. One of them would nurse immediately. The other refused. Even if I opened her mouth and closed it around the nipple she would not suckle. I dribbled as much as I could into her, rhythmically squeezing the nipple and allowing it to build up in her mouth before she would swallow instinctively…but she wouldn’t suckle. It would take me an hour to get a feed into her, milk clotting her fleece near her jaw and running down my arm and leg. I would have to change my clothes after and wash the sour milk smell from my skin. She wasn’t gaining weight like her sister though and she was so timid that when she saw anyone come to her she would hide in a corner and turn her face to the wall. She refused to make eye contact, her beautiful sweet green eyes staring to my side or behind me. I was distraught and worried she would die.

I went to the vets and asked advice. They said that some babies just won’t drink. I could keep doing what I was doing or wait until she got hungry enough to work it out. They warned me that she may not gain weight and would one day not wake up. I tried to wait. But after half a day I felt so bad for this baby, this shy little timid creature I gave up and lay her back on my lap; went back to steadily squeezing milk into her. She never learnt to suck. For 8 weeks I sat with her, day after day, the first feed of the morning at 5am, and got that bottle into her. However long it took. I kept this baby goat alive by sheer stubbornness and determination. You will not die. You will not die on my watch. I am going to show you how to live. By the time she weaned she was eating just fine, the tamest, most beautiful little goat you have ever seen who would run up to me in the yard and nuzzle my hand, snuffle at my face if I was sitting down.

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There are few times in my life that I refused to concede defeat. I’ll put up a good fight, man, but at the end of the day? I know when I’m pushing shit uphill. Only a few times in my whole life have I stood up and said, “This is happening. I am MAKING this happen.” Not letting that baby goat starve herself to death, that was one of those times. And I realised while I was writing this – I have never done that for myself. Anytime I’ve done that it’s been because someone else was at stake. Those times I saw that shit I was pushing uphill and thought, “Screw it. I’ll move the mountain, because this? THIS is moving, damn it.” But never for me. For me, I lie down and take it. But when there is shit to be moved – you want me to have your back. Because God fucking damnit…I will fight until I’m bloody for you.

Aren’t I worth as much as a goat? Can’t I fight for me? Get up. Move the goddamn mountain.

Also? I’m out of whiskey.

Save Yourself.

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Years ago someone told me a story about their best friend. In this story the best friend (from here on out known as The Woman) was madly in love with a guy.

Over time my memory of the story and what I pictured has merged so I’m going to tell it like I pictured it, it may not be exact and I am going to call it creative license or avoiding libel – take your pick.

Okay.

So the woman is madly in love. She is young, 19 and stunningly beautiful. Tall with long dark hair and wide set blue eyes. The man she is in love with is a bit of a bad boy. When I imagine him back then I picture someone a little like one of the guys from The Outsiders, rough and slicked back hair and maybe he wears a leather jacket and rides a motorcycle. They dated for a long time and she really wanted to marry him. But he didn’t seem like he was ever going to propose so she decided to call his bluff. She left him. Let’s take a second to applaud this woman for leaving someone who wasn’t giving her what she wanted or needed from life. This is very hard when you love someone.

Shortly after she found another man and he proposed and she accepted. Now here is the part that is sad. She thought the Outsider was going to stop her. In the weeks leading up to the wedding she expected he would roll up on his motorcycle and confess his love. She believed he would realise that he was letting this amazing, funny, beautiful woman just slip through his fingers and say, “I love you. Pick me.” Because that is what all women really want (and probably men too) – to be chosen. Day after day.

Right up to the wedding, as she was saying her vows she completely expected the Outsider to turn up, bust down the doors of the church and announce his objection. When the ceremony ended with no sign of him she couldn’t believe it. She was shocked and desperately heartbroken that he had let her go without a second thought.

This story has a happy ending because the woman was actually very happy with her husband, they had kids, travelled, lived life and loved each other until the very end. But that is not how it began and that is not the point. It could just as easily have gone the other way and she walk out of there miserable and stuck until one of them realised they needed a divorce.

So the point is, many people have spent too long waiting for something or someone to show up. Have spent days that spiralled out into weeks or months or years even waiting for their Outsider to come and change their life. I do it all the time, I make promises to myself that if this one thing happens then I will do this. I wait for other people to change their mind. I wait for someone else to tell me I’m valuable, wanted, loved, worth it. You cannot hinge your life on hope. Hope is a valuable ingredient in life, essential in fact, but it’s a lot like flour…unless you add in some eggs and milk and sugar, you ain’t never going to have a cake, baby. Stop looking for your Outsider to come save you.

Save yourself.

Dad.

I’m going to tell you a secret. It took me years to love my dad properly. I didn’t understand him really. He was never a mean dad, he joked with me, I have a picture of us on the beach, him giving me a piggy back so I know he played with me when I was small. But as a child I took those things for granted. But mum was my go to, alright. I knew mum bought all the birthday and Christmas presents and Dad was just as surprised as me to see what was inside, I knew mum cooked the dinner and washed the clothes.

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My dad, seemed this odd mystery to me. He disappeared in the morning before I was awake and came home and lay down on the couch where most nights he promptly fell asleep. He was always really into things I didn’t understand, like cycads and palms and occasionally I would be pressed into watering these which I really begrudged. He was always finding things he loved and bringing them home like rocks and cow skulls and broken birds that would chirp on top of the bathroom mirror light where it was warm while I brushed my teeth. He would sometimes say to me, “What do you think of this design? Do you think it would make a good chair?” And I would be bewildered by this because I didn’t know if he was planning to quit his job and become a chair maker. One time mum and I had to role play customers while he pretended to sell us smoke alarms. The falling asleep on the couch alarmed me. My friends and I creeping by him on the way to my room dodging the cup on its side on the floor where he had been practising his putting before he fell asleep. Sometimes he would have two TVs going in the same room – both on sport – and he would be asleep in front of them.

It took me years – I’m embarrassed to admit – before I realised he was sleeping because he was exhausted. My dad would get up early and go to work and often stop by the family farm on the way home to round up cattle or feed them or fix something. I never connected these absent hours to the sleeping on the couch. He worked and worked and he was tired. In my childhood innocence I didn’t connect this with the yellow pay packets that came home, with the clothes on my back, with the food on the table, with the tennis lessons or tae-kwon-do lessons or those Christmas presents he was just as surprised at as me when I opened them.

It took me years to think…oh. My dad went a great many years dreadfully under appreciated by me. When I sit with him now a part of me whispers “I see you, I see you, I see you.” because for years he was invisible to me. And I learnt that my dad is funny, he tells hilarious stories. He is quirky. He is kind to animals which I think shows great character in a man. He will fix something before he throws it away, or at least have the intention to. He loves my mother in a way that blows me away. Years ago on my wedding night my mother fell asleep and he came in and stroked her hair and said, “God, she is so beautiful.” And I thought how magical to have someone love you so fiercely even while you’re asleep that he blurts out his love and you never even know.

So there it is. My dad. Happy Father’s Day. I see you.

The Hardest Thing about Parenthood.

I’ll tell you the hardest thing about being a parent. Or actually, what for me has been the hardest thing about being a mother. The invisibility.

There are dozens of ‘hard things’ and the hard stuff happens immediately. It begins right there when you see those two pink lines on the little white wand you just peed on and realise that you can say goodbye to soft cheese for the next 8 months (I know friends, it was a struggle for me too). You feel tired, emotional, your skin stretches and warps over your abdomen and you watch as stretch marks bloom across you. I remember one night going to sleep with perfect breasts and I woke the next morning to step in the shower and caught sight of my chest in the mirror and thought I had those strange marks from sleeping all over my breasts until I realised they were stretch marks that literally appeared overnight like magic. Across my thighs they were deep, painful looking scarlet scars as though I had been whipped. I looked down once when I could still see my calves and was fascinated by the fact I had a lone red tendril of stretch mark on my calf, far from my stomach that was the cause of all this. And that’s before we hit hyperemesis, SPD that literally crippled me (although I was fortunate enough to suffer no major lasting effects), gestational diabetes.

Then labour. The pain that comes with opening a portal to life, the panting, the pushing, the sweat, the blood.

Swollen breasts filled with milk. Cracked nipples. Post partum bleeding. Sleepless nights. The perfume of baby powder and newborn and underneath it all the faint sour smell of baby vomit on your shirt you didn’t notice until you were in the shops grabbing bread because – goddamn it, do we ALWAYS need bread in this house? Where does it go?

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The teething, the worry of SIDS, the baby check ups and doctors appointments, the growth charts and milestones: check, check, check…

Baby proofing and blending of foods and patience until you think you might explode from buried frustration. Endless on loop soundtracks of the Wiggles, or Thomas, or Strawberry Shortcake and barbie shoes that never seem to exist after the first five minutes of leaving their box.

Clothes and washing and which school is right? Are they happy? Are other kids mean? Is MY kid mean? Homework and more doctors visits and fever in the night that leaves you sleeping on the floor by the bed sponging a scalding forehead with a tepid cloth and praying the panadol kicks in soon.

Head lice and parent/teacher interviews and costumes and parties. Christmas presents and birthdays and school discos and is my child happy? Is he happy? And oh, my heart is breaking. And vomit buckets being emptied.

Football games and netball games and swimming lessons.

A thousand sandwiches.

Which high school? Should I let her wear make up? Is she too young? And teens with boyfriends and parties and leaving you and leaving you and leaving you. And you have to balance your protection with your need to see if she can fly. Will you fly? And heartbreaks and colds and doctors visits and the orthodontist and talent quests where she sang like an angel.

Bearing witness. Day in day out. Endless. A hundred things. A thousand memories and you are their keeper.

The hardest thing is the invisibility. Of knowing there is not a single time they will remember all of those thankless things you did because you loved them until they are the keeper of memories for their own children.

But writing them out just now, they didn’t feel like that much of a hardship after all.

Miscommunication.

So awhile ago my mum and I were on the phone and I asked if she would mind having the kids overnight that weekend. At the time I had visions of escaping to a nice hotel with my partner for the night, ordering room service and perhaps we would sit on a balcony with drinks and talk about the world before we went to bed and got sexy. What actually happened was we were both so busy and tired he ended up working on an engine while I sat in a fold out chair and we talked about things before I went to bed early because I’m a piker like that. Anyway, mum says, “No worries, Dad had a bit of a cold but he went with Grandad on a run so he mustn’t feel too bad.”

Now at the time this didn’t seem to phase me, I just kind of accepted that my dad was going for a run with Grandad even though my dad – while always seeming to take pretty good care of himself – has never ran on the regular (or irregular) to my knowledge. Still, after I got off the phone and I had a bit of time to process this information I was a bit confused because while my dad running is strange, Grandad running was really next level.

Firstly, Grandad has had a hip replacement and uses a cane. He has used a cane for so many years now I can’t remember him not using a cane. I pretty sure Grandad wouldn’t walk to the shops that are only a street away. In some ways, Grandad is like my spirit animal in that respect because I try not to walk anywhere unless I’m hatching a Pokemon egg and even then, I do it grudgingly. One time before they sold the farm Grandad couldn’t find the car keys so he drove the tractor into town to get the paper. That story delights me and I tell it to everyone. I am so impressed by his problem solving attitude to the paper situation and his complete lack of give-a-fucks as to what people thought when they saw this man riding on top of a tractor down the main drag of town to fetch The Courier Mail.

Anyway, on the weekend I am sitting at my aunties after mum had the kids for me and I say to her tentatively, “Mum, you said that Dad and Grandad were going for a run and….Grandad runs?” My mother bursts out laughing and my brother has tears in his eyes and slaps his knee in hilarity. “Oh, god no!” Mum chokes out between fresh peals of laughter, “It’s a sausage run! They go to Bunnings and get a sausage from the sausage sizzle!”

Sausage run. I told you he was my spirit animal.

ps. I don’t really have a photo to go with this. I had grand plans of perhaps partaking in a sausage run myself but unfortunately my kids were away this weekend so I felt more strongly about wearing sweatpants and refusing to put on a bra. Also I have a complete avoidance issue with stock photos. I just can’t bring myself to use them even though I sell stock images – or maybe that’s why, I don’t know, it’s neurotic. Anyway, the best I could do is a random photo I found of my daughter trying to convince this chicken to get down from the tree. We had such trouble with this bird, to be honest. We clipped her wings and she still managed to flap and struggle her way to the highest a branch. I admired her tenacity. I’m far too lazy for that myself but I think it was a good quality to have. Peace out, folks. Happy Sunday.

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Running for your life.

This week I made myself a list of days I need to do things and what time and stuff I need to remember because while I’m slowly step by agonising step crawling my way back to me, I still have a shocking memory and kept forgetting dates and times.

At the beginning of the week I was sure I was going to rock this, maybe it would be hard but I would definitely complete it and at the end of the week I would look back at my long list of accomplishments and fantastic mum-moments and feel like I actually did something apart from survive. I thought to myself (okay, I mostly lectured AT myself because I’m one of my biggest cheerleaders and also a giant nag) ‘listen, this is like a muscle, you have to WORK at getting stuff done in the beginning and then before you know it, it won’t be so hard anymore’. Kind of like how last week I began weight bearing exercises to rebuild muscles and the next day my thighs hurt like an absolute bitch and then the day after, even though I KEPT doing the exercises, it didn’t hurt so much and now it doesn’t hurt at all even though I’m doing more than I was when I started.

And I think I might be on the right track with that line of thinking, but shit, it’s really hard. Basically every morning my anxiety tells me to go back to bed and make excuses for why I can’t do whatever I had on that day and stubborn me has to dig her heels in and push on through. I hope this time next year I will look back and just be like, “Oh, man, you were so sick then but look how far you’ve come.” But it’s really hard to feel like a warrior when you just keep having your ass kicked by life. And I kind of feel a little resentment that I even have to be a warrior anyway because I don’t feel it is in my nature. I’m the person that would be first to die in a horror movie because I’d run for a bit and then think, “Nah, fuck it. Let’s do this.” And turn around face them knowing I’m probably toast. And sometimes I think I like that part of me more than I would if I was the running and screaming type. The part of me that is just ready to give it up. Not give up life but give up running. The part that turns and stares and just says, “Whatever. Let’s see what happens next.”

I kind of did that in the beginning when I first sort of broke down (I never know what to call what happened, ‘nervous breakdown?’ ‘anxiety attack that lasted for weeks?’) when I would lay outside and just be buffeted by waves of crushing anxiety and nausea from the anxiety. People think anxiety is just worry.

Wait. Let me rephrase that.

People who have never HAD anxiety think that it’s just worry. If you have ever suffered you understand likening anxiety to worry is kind of like telling someone whose leg has been crushed under a bus and the bus is on fire and also it’s on the bottom of the ocean and your drowning that you understand because you once stubbed your toe.

“Just don’t worry about it.”

“Oh, thank you. I’m cured.”

Friends, 95% of the time – I don’t even KNOW WHAT I am anxious ABOUT. It’s not that I’m worrying about my power bill or what to wear to a cocktail party. It’s that I can’t get out of my bed to put water in a frigging vase for the flowers my partner bought me to coax me out of the very bed I can’t get out of AND I DON’T KNOW WHY. I just know if I stand up I will either pass out or throw up or cry.

And so during that time I did kind of just turn and face the attacker and be like, “Whatever. Just stab me then.” And it did. But instead of dying I just lay there bleeding until I realised it would keep stabbing and I would keep not dying until I got up and shuffled away. So I do. I move. I run. I walk. Fuck, some days? I just crawl. But I keep moving. And I’m resentful that I am forced to be this warrior when I’m really more of a lazy, accept-my-fate kind of gal.

So this week I have moved. I have put on foot in front of the other and hated the fact it’s so damn hard the whole time. But I did it. This week the attacker didn’t catch me.

See you Monday, bitch.

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Choosing.

Sometimes current events completely confound me because I can’t believe that in 2016 we even have to argue for some of this shit. Example, yesterday I was listening to radio and some guy was saying, “We have to be very CAREFUL with marriage equality because we are changing the face of what marriage really is.” And I can’t believe we even are having this conversation because it seems so simple to alter a few words in whatever legislation exists that may say ‘man and woman’ to ‘two people’.

Over half my friends are divorced – myself included – and they were all married to people of the opposite gender. Friends…I know exactly what that piece of paper is worth and it’s basically shit all. Partnerships happen in the heart before they ever happen in front of the nearest and dearest. I’m not going to stand here and pretend I know how to make a marriage work. I was married for 11 years and it didn’t work. But I have studied it’s demise, I have been the coroner to the death of my marriage and I can take you through the museum of it’s failures and tell you categorically what made it terminal in the first place. We just stopped choosing each other.

See, in the beginning of a relationship you choose that person all the time. Sometimes you choose them even when you know it’s probably not the smartest idea, like when you have to go to work early the next day but you stay up until 3am discussing the world because you just can’t get enough of them. You choose them every morning and you reaffirm that choice every night. And then for me, over time we just stopped doing that. I chose to go to bed instead of watching that movie with him. He chose to stay at work when I was miscarrying and asked him to come home. I chose to avoid lunch with him in favour of editing some photos. He chose to sit at his computer instead of having a conversation with me. Sometime over the last five years of our marriage instead of counting down how long until he came home, I began to count down how long until he went back. And I know he did the same.

Marriage – I think – is just waking up every morning and choosing that person. Again and again. Choosing them when they are laughing and making you feel good. Choosing them when they’re chewing too loud and you feel like you want to stab a fork in your ear to make it stop. Choosing them. And sometimes it’s not even the really good or the really bad you have to remember to choose them through. Because both those emotions are fraught with passion – even if it’s a bad passion. It’s the mundane. Someone flossing their teeth by your side for thirty years. Someone laying their head next to yours on the pillow every single night – for life, man. And you have to remember to choose them then too. And it’s hard work, this partnership thing. No one really knows if they’re going to make it. And you never ever will because a successful marriage only becomes one that lasted the distance when one of you dies and you’re still choosing each other that very morning.

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What is marriage? Hell, if I know. It’s been constantly redefined through out history. This is just the next page. I do know that no one is innately better at it simply because their partner’s gender is the opposite of theirs. That just seems absurd and I can’t really believe we are having this as a debate. I can’t imagine how furious I would be if I needed someone to hold a plebiscite to tell me if I get to choose my partner or not because my marriage might redefine theirs. If marriage is all about the choosing then gay people have been practising marriage for just as long as heterosexuals, just without the paper. And while I may feel the paper isn’t that important, I have the privilege of deciding that for me, simply because I’m a woman who happens to be in love with a man. It seems bizarre that because of that twist of fate I can go ahead and stand in front of my family and say I’m going to keep choosing him for the rest of my life and someone else’s choice goes unacknowledged.

Sometimes the world just really confuses me.

Blocked.

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I don’t know if other writers do this but every time I post a blog post I have this paralysing fear I will never be able to write anything ever again. It’s a crushing pressure. What if that’s it? What if no words ever come to me again? What if this time next week I’m sitting here staring at the blank screen forced to make the blogging version of small talk and ask how the weather is at your place?

I have the same fear every time I’m about to do a shoot. For a few seconds just after a client has arrived and just before I lift the viewfinder to my eye? Every pose I have ever done immediately leaves my head and for just those interminable seconds I’m sure I’m going to stand there dumb before them while they exchange awkward glances and I have to confess I have no idea what I’m doing. “Terribly sorry, guys. I’m a fake. I actually have no idea what I’m doing here. Best we all go home, hey? Haha.” Then the camera is up at my face and I slip back into my role and can direct. But for a few seconds there…my god. Terrifying.

It use to bother me so much, the performance paralysis, that I would do bad sketches and little notes to myself prior to a shoot so I could refer to it if I freaked out. I suppose it was a kind of cheat sheet and eventually I finessed it so I would plan the shoot on the iPad with a collection of images from previous shoots and called it a “Look Book” (industry term) which sounds infinitely better than, “Collection of cheats in case I get Shoot Amnesia.” I suppose it’s the photographer version of stage fright.

Anyway, I have this same fear every time I sit to write something even though I tell myself encouraging words like, “Writing is like building muscles, you have to use them or you lose them. This is like running laps.” And, “It doesn’t matter if it sucks. It’s the act that is important. Not whether you win or lose but how you play the game.” Yadda yadda. I wonder if painters get paralysis when they stare at a blank canvas? If potters ever fear the clay? If all writer’s sometimes stare at a blank sheet of paper and it looks like more of a threat than an invitation?

In other news…I have writer’s block.

Go East.

There are days when I do nothing.

Literally nothing.

I sit outside under piles of quilts and listen to the never ceasing traffic along the roads nearby. I browse the Internet. I drink tea. I wonder what I’m doing with my life and why I’m not doing it right now and I feel guilty and yet, I still sit there doing nothing.

I like to imagine me gathering energy, because sometimes on those days where I do nothing I feel like there is something ‘off’ inside me and I wait for it to feel ‘right’ again. I can’t even put into words exactly what that feeling is, it’s like a piece of tin roof flapping in the wind. Inside the house everything seems normal but you know from the sound that something isn’t nailed down properly where you can’t see. I gather energy and I wait. Sometimes I write but when the roofing is flapping everything comes out strange and disjointed and I might start a half a dozen different pieces and discard them all.

Those were the times when I use to shoot that I would go outside and centre myself by looking through the lens. Those are the times when I use to spin that I would get lost in the drafting and twist of the fibre as it left my hands, in the click of the wheel. But I don’t do those things anymore. Now I gather energy and I wait.

I don’t know what I am waiting for. I know I’m waiting for something because it’s the same feeling you have when you’ve gotten ready to go out too early and you’re sitting in your living room with your handbag by your side and your shoes on just waiting for the time you can leave the house. It’s the same feeling when you’re in the doctor’s surgery trying not to breathe in everyone’s germs while you wait for your name to be called.

And I’ve been waiting for a long time.

Years now.

And sometimes I’m not sure if I am supposed to keep waiting. If the ‘thing’ I’m waiting on just needs a little longer. I’m not sure if I am supposed to be getting up and finding my own way but I don’t know yet what direction I’m suppose to take so I’m paralysed without an address. Like someone handed me a slip of paper that just says, “You should go now.” And I’m like, “Yes, but where? Can you give me some more information? Even just ‘go East’. I’ll leave right now if you can just wave your hand in the general direction and we can get to the the specifics later.” But no one answers me. Just that same slip of paper.

So I wait.

And I gather energy in case it’s a long walk.

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Transition.

This last week I was at my therapists and I hadn’t seen her in a fortnight because I had to cancel last week with the flu. She asked how I had been. And I was like, “Well the first week was good. I went to lunch to my partner and we went out to dinner. But then I backslid badly last week and didn’t cope so well. I barely slept on the weekend and it was hard to eat.”

We start the EMDR therapy and when we do that she asks me to think about that morning where I couldn’t sleep. And then she brings me out and asks what comes up before starting the machine again. We do that again and again until I sort of break through to the root of the issue and that day I just BREAK DOWN. I’m a crying mess and I’m telling her I’m just sick of my BRAIN and I don’t know what to do about this because am I supposed to keep trying to be well? Am I suppose to just accept this is ALWAYS going to be hard? Like, what the fuck, even?

I cry until I’m calm and the room is quiet with nothing but the low hum of the paddles vibrating in my hands and after awhile she says softly, “And what comes up now?” And I take a deep breath and say, “Well. I suppose I just have to get better. There is no way through it but through it.”

It’s kind of like, when you are in labour to begin with it doesn’t feel so bad. You breathe through the contractions and sometimes you can muster a little smile for whomever is supporting you through it. You walk around. You take a shower. I’ve been in labour and resetting a Tamagotchi for my three year old at 8cms dilated.

Then something changes.

The contractions pick you up and wring you out. You finish one and barely have time to recover before the next one is descending. You tire. There are no more smiles. It’s hard work. At that point I sent my three year old and six year old to their room with a movie so I could focus on the business of birthing. Even then though you still remember why you are here. Good grief, but this is hard work but I’m having a baby and this will end.

And then.

Transition.

Transition is when women give up. It’s when you feel like you cannot possibly go on. There is sometimes a lull in contractions at this point but you are still rocking from what has been and cannot imagine you can survive their return. For me they space right out. But the intensity of them when I am so exhausted just leaves me in despair. This is the point when I look into my midwife’s eyes and confess I don’t think I’m strong enough. That it has never hurt this badly. That I will surely not survive this. I look to her for help. I want her to take over and take this from me because I don’t believe in myself anymore.

I can’t do this.

You can.

I can’t.

You can. You are. You must.

There is no way through it but through it.

At some point in the next few minutes I will rally. At some point I will grit my teeth and realise that *I* am the ONLY one in the room with the power here. That it is only ME. In the space of seconds I will turn from despair and towards the goal and think, “Then let us do this.” And then I push.

Transition.

Transition hurts. The shadow of lost hope washes over you. But there is no way through it but through it.

Then let us do this.

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