24 September 2015

Theory of relativity

You know that time that you did that thing and it played on your mind endlessly. It was the rock in your chest, the nauseated feeling in your throat, the words of recrimination spewing poison into your mind.

And you finally came clean with somebody and they laughed.

Or hugged you.

Or spoke kindly to you of the power of forgiveness. For yourself first and foremost.

And all of a sudden, that thing was a lesser thing. A manageable thing.  Actually, just a thing.

People's things are different. Huge. Take one friend of mine - Honest, loyal, kind, hardworking, thoughtful, loving, funny and strong. She also has a flexible approach to deadlines, a genius for conflict avoidance and (to me) a completely bizarre belief that she is not 'good enough' and 'unloveable'.

We were talking recently about some things that had been happening in her life and how this thing had happened and she felt terrible about it. I was vehemently banging the table and pointing fingers and telling her that she is an idiot (I'm a supportive friend like that).

Says I, in full throttle, "You are amazing, you're funny, you're a gorgeous friend, you're a great mum, a brilliant boss and that example you just gave me is bullshit. That is ONE SECOND OF YOUR LIFE. It's nothing. It's inconsequential. TAKE IT FROM ME THAT IF PEOPLE ARE JUDGING YOU ON THAT MOMENT THAN IT IS THEY WHO ARE FUCKED UP - NOT YOU"

anything else would just be ridiculous
Guess when I had my "AHA!" moment this month?

To be honest, I don't even need other people to label me because I'm front and centre with the label maker making sure I get my labels printed in big font and pasted all over the insides of my own mind, obscuring the view.

We are none of us perfect.

Not. A. One.

The things that become things do so because we frame them, label them if you will, in the context of our surroundings, our own sense of value, and the people around us.

And that would be that if we gave the good, the bad and the ugly exactly the same amount of space in our minds. But most of us don't. We internalise things, they shape our beliefs, our sense of worth, our interactions and ultimately, our choices.

As you know if you've been here a while, my psych and I have spent much time sorting through the chaos of my brain. She likes to while away the minutes dissecting my low self esteem, my fundamental lack of self worth, my talent for catastrophisation and my singularly spectacular talent for denying my own depressive tendencies; while I want to talk about, well, fun stuff.

In the midst of one gruelling session, she said to me (seemingly out of the blue) - describe yourself.

I did. Without hesitation.

Let me tell you my friends - if we were dating, I'd have dumped me. What an arsehole!

She then asked me to share some of the things my friends have said about me over the years. And bar the inevitable disagreements and bust ups that happen in all human relationships along the way (every single one of which I mentioned in excruciating detail first), the vast majority of my friends are very, very lovely about me. Even the ones who have known me a long time.

But yet, for every 15 minutes of imperfect behaviour, I have dedicated many, many, many thousands more believing that those moments of imperfection, are what define me. Those moments of imperfection, those things which make me feel ill or that spend weeks heavily pressing into the extra set of ribs in my chest cavity, are what other people see in me. Whereas, most probably, they're not thinking about me. They're focussed on their own 15 minutes of good, bad or ugly.

15 minutes or 900 seconds.

900 seconds in a day. 86,400 seconds in a day. 604,800 seconds in a week.

If you live to be 80 you will have participated in 2.52288e9 seconds. That's a lot.

Relatively what are 900 seconds in 2.52288e9 seconds? Nada.

And so I was absolutely correct as I bellowed emphatically stated my support of my friend. All of the things that I know about her are true.  Relatively, her moments of imperfection are irrelevant to me, and pretty much everyone else, because they are just parts of her totality - and none of us are perfect.

As her friend, we love her for who she is, and when we think of her, it is her overwhelming gorgeous totality that we think on. When we are asked to describe her, that is what we describe.

We want her to surround herself with people that know her and love her without judging her or emphasising her imperfections or chipping away at her self worth. Because she is bloody amazing.

We don't want her to her to flirt with kindness and love, but to behave thoroughly inappropriately with them both privately and publicly.

You may ask if this has been percolating away in my wee brain for all this time - what was my AHA! moment.

The answer?

I should totally listen to me. I'm fucking ace. I'd make me a great friend if I gave myself a chance.

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4 September 2015

I am heartbroken

I got asked yesterday why 'somebody like me' wasn't commenting furiously about the European refugee crisis, Cameron's concession to public opinion, Iceland's brilliance and the heartbreaking pictures of Aylan Kurdi, who died along with his mother Rehan and his brother Galip while seeking asylum.

The answer is simple. Because I am heartbroken by this every single day.

We live in a country where we will not put our kids in a car without a car seat, or take birthday cakes to school because of the sugar and yet parents like us, Rehan and Abdullah, felt that the only way to keep their kids safe was to put them in a boat and set out across the ocean in the HOPE, only the HOPE, that they would be safe.

 Tully and Cassidy aged 3 & 5        #kidslikemine       Galip and Aylan aged 3 & 5
And that family is now destroyed. Along with many other nameless, faceless, desperate people fleeing everyday violence and mayhem that is so far beyond our comprehension that people are actually proud to display 'Fuck off we're full' stickers on their cars and well suited middle class people almost spill their Shiraz as they bullshit on about 'economic migrants' as if they actually have a point. Or a clue.

People don't seek asylum for fun or because they need our poorly performing dollar tucked into their wallets.

They seek asylum because they see NO OTHER OPTION if they are to protect their families.

While we are filling our Facebook feeds here in Australia  this week saying let's not see the picture, this is too too too sad, those poor refugees, oh I've been to Bodrum stories - we seem oblivious to the irony that when people come to us over distances much more vast - we lock them up in what are effectively concentration camps.


I am heartbroken about the Kurdi family and their fellow citizens.

I am also heartbroken about 23 year old refugee Reza Berati who was killed 18 months ago by somebody paid by the Australian government  and whose murderer has still not been charged.

I am heartbroken about Ranjini, who was found to be a legitimate refugee in 2011 and who along with her children has been locked up in a detention centre since 2013 with no right of appeal because she doesn't actually know why she is locked up.

I am heartbroken about H**g, a refugee who lives with partial paralysis and profound depression as a result of their extended incarceration in an Australian detention centre, not the horrific violence that caused them to flee.

I am heartbroken about H**z who fled his country to stop them killing him and his family and now lives an isolated life, unable to contribute to the society he lives in because we wont let him get a job because, well actually, I don't rightly understand why not.

I am heartbroken about Mojgan Shamsalipoor, the refugee and Brisbane high school student who was physically dragged away from her husband and re-incarcerated after she spoke to the media.

I am heartbroken about the doctors and nurses who will be charged and jailed for speaking out about the extensive child and sexual abuse atrocities committed in Australia's detention camps.

I am heartbroken that not-for-profits, charities and churches who seek to support people in detention centres on Manus and Nauru have been banned from visiting.

I am heartbroken about the children who are being abused in our name because their parents sought a better life for them.

I am heartbroken that it has taken the picture of a child in shorts and a t-shirt lying dead on a beach for us to realise the common humanity we share with refugees and asylum seekers.

This breaks my heart every single day.

I know people think I'm soft hearted because I have not stopped weeping over the stories I read almost daily about the violence and ugliness we perpetuate in the name of national security against vulnerable people. There are some days when I feel so sad and so helpless about our own approach to refugees and asylum seekers that I feel physically sick.

These are people. People. People so desperate that they risk everything to come to us and we hide behind our shameful, and globally condemned, refugee policies and procedures, pretending it's not our problem.

We're protecting our borders.

Well bullshit. Our little cocoon of righteousness and entitlement is just political and media rhetoric that we buy into because we don't want to rock our own (metaphorical) boat.

My vehement hope is that the saturation of coverage highlighting the humanity of the refugees and asylum seekers in Europe, galvanises us here in Australia to be more proactive and vocal in our opposition to the hideous way we treat the people coming to us seeking safety.

That we demand change the way the UK demanded it of their politicians.

That we accept that our politicians are there to represent us and that if they are not representing us we have nothing but our own apathy and fear of the unknown to blame.

That we can change the way we do it if we have the courage to speak up.

That we can change the way we do this if we can maintain the focus past the lifespan of the headlines.

That we can change the way we do this by remembering that refugees and asylum seekers are people.

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