Fish and chips – Double Fist Pump

Even though things weren’t great growing up there are some good memories amongst the dark messy blob I still feel trapped in.

Being a country born and bred family we had meat and veg most nights. I never ate pasta until I left home and started my lustful romance with all things carbs. Once a month though my mother would announce we were having fish and chips. This usually had me grinning and imagining the fatty and greasy chips I was about to consume.

Fish and chip night, watching new episodes aired on television of the Simpsons and sipping on soft drink was one of my best memories.

Another memory that makes me smile is my rabbit, Peter. Peter had some serious long great genes for a long lifetime. He was big, white and had big red eyes. He was adorable although my pet had built up a little bit of an attitude after having my father’s working dogs think he was a sheep and run continuously around his hutch. I would sing little Peter Rabbit had a fly upon his nose and he would sit ignoring me.

Once Peter died though we got two rabbits. Meant to be the same sex but they had little bunnies so I guess they weren’t. This is where I learnt the lesson: psycho rabbit mums will eat their babies.

Coming from a family like mine, you grow up thinking that the way to interact with others is to put them down. It makes you feel better about yourself. Sad but true. This is what my family was all about. You could never say anything out of line to my parents though. They were excellent teachers and I always enjoyed my sister being told she was stupid and a waste of space. Kind of made me feel less alone.

Birthdays were always pretty special too. Not by my standards now but it was the one day my mother could fake smile as she handed a small and inexpensive gift to me. It was the one night you got to choose what was on the menu for dinner (limited choice to choose from but still a treat) and after dinner, my father would stagger to bed completely intoxicated and leave me and the rest of the family to a simple Sara-Lee cake to celebrate. Things felt tense when my father was around, he had a temper and step out of line just a bit and he would showcase that temper.

These are small memories but ones I treasure. They were the gold among the insurmountable dirt that it lay in.

 

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How I met your mother

My GP recently asked where I’d met Michael. Before I had a chance to say anything she was eager to guess. She guess that we met in a psych ward. I wasn’t really sure how to respond to this one. I laughed hysterically before telling her the actual story.

It was the Young Witness newspaper where we met. I was 16, he was 23 (met not started dating). I had found myself in the office while doing work experience. Quite a weird thingy really, I sat going through the Yellow Pages the night before my form had to be in telling my careers advisor what industry I was keen to check out. I knew I wanted to write. I wanted to take photos and the amount of money I earnt wasn’t important in my career planning.

I was nervous the first day of work experience. Someone had told me that the editor was a complete prick and warned me to stay away from him. It turns out that I think this opinion was just an unfortunate timing thing where he had taken the heat from the previous editor.

I spent most of my time with Michael. He showed me how he did lay-out and the production of putting the paper together. The design process fascinated me and he told me that he rarely got out to cover stories because Quarking (the good ol’ Quark express days) and layout took time and it was like playing a game of Tetris.

I liked Michael. He listened to me. Nobody really listened to me at this point in my life. I wasn’t afraid to ask him questions either – something my parents had discouraged and tried to beat out of me. I tried giving him the impression I was a normal teenager that did all those teenage things.

I knew I wasn’t normal when I was involved in a creative process of writing a book. My experience of being a teenage was worlds apart from what the others in my class experienced. Work experience was liberating for me. It’s a strange thing to say because it’s the work environment; it’s not supposed to be fun. I could walk down the main street of Young. By myself. I could buy my lunch from the local bakery. I didn’t have to ask permission.

These small things made me excited about the world. Feeling free was addictive. I decided to go back to the Young Witness and do more work experience. I skipped one day of school each week, rode the bus over, walked about a km, and had to be home at the same time I would normally have from school. It was worth it all though.

It was this second time I got to know Michael more. We talked, laughed and it truly was the best conversation I’d had in my life. We spoke the same language it seemed.

Two years down the track from this point and I contacted Michael. I can’t tell you how nervous I was that he wouldn’t remember me. He did. I talked my mother in to letting me go and see him. I gave her the pretence of this is a good contact to have to get the job I want to do. I just wanted to see him though.

Sometime after this I summoned the courage to write a letter to him telling him I had feelings for him. I gave him strict instructions not to call my house but to write back. My father would’ve flipped because I was stopping business calls coming through and I didn’t want them to stand in the way of this small slice of me being an adult activity. I lied a lot to my parents to spend time with him. I stole postage stamps from them so I could post letters and I would race to check the post before my mother could. If there was anything for me I’d take it, stash it into my backpack, leave the rest of the letters in the post-box and read the letter while walking to school. I read them. I reread them.

I kept up the facade that I was the normal teenage but this became hard when he asked to see me on my 18th birthday. I had no idea how to do this. Every moment I spent with him to this point was all through a barrage of lies to my parents. I spent my time with him watching the clock and worried that they’d find out.

After school I got a job packing stone fruit in Young. I told my parents that the factory was the other side of Young and that it was a 5pm start. I moved in with Michael. My sister eventually found out I’d lied and told them though. After this job finished I stayed with Michael. I had escaped and wasn’t going back. Michael ‘paid my way’. Something that provoked the ‘she is getting fat’ from my mother and ‘she is a free-loader and needs to get a job’ from my father.

I have loved this man from the first time I met him. It upsets me to realise though that I have him and my children because of what my parents did to me. He was the first man that was kind to me.

A couple of years later we moved to Canberra, got jobs, played house and got married. I do need to leave you all with this though. In true Pittman style he married me with fly down. Yep, he had forgotten to do it up in the mad rush of it all.

 

 

 

 

My friend Larry

We’ve all heard that tragic woman give her menstrual cycle a name. Aunt Flo, Downtown Abbey, Bloody Buddy, Belly Devil, Girl Flu, Leak Week, Monthly vacation are just some of the ones I’ve heard. This is my segway into telling you about my friend Larry.

Larry is not my menstrual cycle. He is my depression and we are inseparable. Larry and I have been friends for some time now. I don’t spend as much time with anybody else as I do with Larry.

Laughing Laz is great at getting me to do really stupid and life-ending activities. A bit of the jealous type he is – he is always driving people away telling me that I can’t trust them like I can trust him and he is always pleased when he gets to spend time with me. When I’m at work, he is the one that says, fuck this shit and who cares about what your member wants you to do.

It’s an abusive relationship and he controls me. Every now and then I realise how abusive he is, I break the locks and I leave him, swearing I’ll never go back, but Larry is good at luring me into his world. He likes to take credit for where I end up. He is that friend that wants you to feel bad about yourself. Just about to take the picturesque road to the left which is straight, sunny and paved with beautiful flowers, Larry stops me and entices me down the road on the right. This road is cracked, it leads into the woods, it’s cold, and there is a chorus of frightful noises. I take the road on the right. Every single time.

Larry is always in my ear telling me that I’m not good enough. He tells me that I should stop torturing the people in this world and that I should go buy some rope. He is very insistent and unplugs me from the world.

He tells me to eat fried food. He tells me to throw it back up. He is constantly whispering about my weight and my appearance. He likes to remind me all the time that I wasn’t good enough to be loved by my parents. He proves to me that I’m a failure.

Larry is also a big Netflix fan. He is always telling me to watch things I shouldn’t and that upset me. Larry gets stronger every time you leave him.

Larry is my best friend. I never said Larry was a good person though. He is really quite the prick.

Maybe you should think of a career change

I work in the Communications sphere. Even I shake my head at the thought that I should be in this industry. I’ve even had people suggest I consider changing my career.

Growing up I didn’t learn how to talk to people. My opinion didn’t matter. I was a beneath dirt. I always thought that when I escaped that place that I would shed that skin and grow another one that was alluring to all with its diamonds and perfection. I didn’t. The pain and torment would follow. It was a stain I couldn’t get out.

Physically escaping didn’t make the fully capable person and for a good 10 years, my husband woke me up in the morning, packed my lunch, got my clothes out in the morning, helped dress me, brushed my hair, bathed me – he did it all. I was so broken I couldn’t do anything for myself.

I was terrified all the time. I feared any communication with other people. A neighbour waving to me had me breathing heavily and angry at myself for scurry away before any words would need to be exchanged.

I spent years and years watching people and trying to mimic them. I still do this. I would muster up the courage to speak, ‘that steak looks good’. My husband would smirk and point out the insincerity. I just couldn’t even make small talk. Imagine a five year old girl hiding behind the leg of her mother’s long flowing skirt, too shy to reveal herself.

People who know me now would never believe how bad the anxiety was. I push myself and have worked out that if you employ a goofy and stupid always personality, you can laugh off any time you sense that someone thinks you are odd or stupid.

I wasn’t like a prisoner in that home – I was a prisoner. People thought I was a freak. They had me trapped.

I jump hurdles every day at work to fit in. I get stressed out if anyone closes their door to have a conversation because it’s clearly about me and how bad I am. I can’t take criticism – in fact I severely melt-down and try not to let it show by going into the bathroom and hitting my fist against a wall. I’m not good with communicating with others and I flip out very quickly. I do my very best but sometimes your best isn’t enough and they can tell you are faking it.