Was The Sunday Movie on TV, Where I Discovered My Empathy?

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I recall that when I was a kid, that a great part of the empathy within me was moulded by the movies I would see on tv, usually on a Sunday afternoon.

Do you remember when you were a kid growing up in the 70’s & 80’s
the kind of movies that were played?

Some were ‘epic’ which had more to do with the scale of the production rather than necessarily the story, acting or script. And then there were the ‘disney’ style movies. Animals, animation and family. There were the ‘war’ movies and all the ‘cowboy’ films. I remember copious swash-buckling films as well.

These movies taught me some seriously important social lessons 1) the abundant and terrifying lack of humanity in our species + the cruelty and barbarism that we are capable of, 2) and these movies, these powerful conveyors of emotions, also showed me the ideals of hope and redemption and resilience . . . .

  • The Ten CommandmentsPollyanna
  • Joan of Arc
  • National Velvet
  • The Great Escape
  • Ben Hur
  • A Town Like Alice
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Cleopatra
  • Storm Boy
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai
  • The Ghost & Mrs Muir
  • Lawrence of ArabiaThe Bible
  • Lassie
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Planet of the Apes
  • Heidi
  • Gone With The Wind
  • Harvey
  • The Sentimental Bloke
  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • The Bible
  • My Brilliant Career
  • Pollyanna
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Mrs Miniver

I will never, ever, ever, ever, EVER forget a scene from one of the above movies where Christians were being fed to lions in a colosseum-like structure, purely for the entertainment of the local populace. There were numerous close-ups and one I cannot erase from my mind. A grandfather holding his small granddaughter in his arms telling her not to be frightened as they were going to heaven now. Reassuring her not to be caught up in the insanity and inhumanity of the moment, but to forgive their captures and hold hope for something more wonderful in their future.

I am well aware of the futility of this sentiment, but the greater love that is obvious from Grandfather to Granddaughter and his choice to show compassion towards his Granddaughter instead of fear or hate towards his situation, is what has stayed with me all this time.

My heart shattered in this scene, and I was all of fourteen. I cried and cried for hours and demanded to know from my mother how this barbarism could have occurred and how the crowd could be entertained by this insanity?

She explained it was persecution of (our) religion and history.
I vowed never to be a party to such cruelty and to never allow others to easily participate in it either.

And I wonder now, if this last generation of kids has somehow missed out on something by not being exposed to these movies. A REALLY important element of life. As these movies don’t exist on the tv anymore. Streaming tv online, including binging on an entire tv series in one sitting, and online porn. Cheap dvd’s and sharing movies via ‘the cloud’.

Bring bored on a Sunday afternoon or being rained in at the end of the weekend, meant sitting in front of the idiot box and just flopping out. And although it is NOT a loss to encourage this lack of movement or activity, my concern is that young people aren’t being given the sensory (sight, sound and emotion) stimulus of being lost in a story SO much bigger than their own existence.

They don’t have to select the movie, download it, insert it or even move during it. Just sit and watch. And I genuinely wonder . . . . .

. . . have they lost the opportunity to be gently exposed to the element of compassion?

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NB
If anyone was curious . . . .

. . . . . I have been unable to blog
for months as my Clinical Depression
became all-encompassing.

I had to stop the ‘noise’.

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Happy Birthday Clint Eastwood

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The 31st May is Clint Eastwood’s Birthday.

And Brooke Shields,
Colin Farrell
Lea Thompson
Tom Berenger
Chris Elliott
Don Ameche
Walt Whitman
Denholm Elliott
Prince Rainier of Monaco
Jim Bolger
Tommy Emmanuel
Justin Madden
Corey Hart
Sarah Murdoch
and a few other peeps here and there.

Oh, and it’s mine.

But since my 40th Birthday, exactly five years ago, I no longer celebrate or even recognise it as a special day. I don’t answer the phone when it rings, I don’t check my Facebook until the very end of the day to thank any Birthday Wishes, I don’t accept any invitations to dinner or lunch, and generally I just ignore the day altogether.

This year I received just one card in the mail – from my ex-BFF’s Mum (not my own Mum).

My girlfriend Sally also dropped a card off to my place, on her way home from church. I took some two day-old soup to her place a couple of hours later and we watched the footy and crocheted in front of the fire. Max LOVES going to Sally’s house. He knows we’re heading there as soon as I turn off the highway and stands with his front paws on the dashboard.

And now it’s over, and I don’t have to feel the hurt and the reality of how alone I am – as polarised by a birthday – for another twelve months.

By which time,
I am planning on not living in the Purple House any more.

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Personality Of A Sink Hole

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I started writing this post in late November 2014,
and just couldn’t face finishing it before now.

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For my fortieth birthday, I had always planned an amazing day. An amazing weekend, actually.

  • A rural campground, with huts and a central hall
  • A treasure hunt
  • A dance party
  • A decorated table for all of my presents
  • Handpainted sign posts
  • A giant scrabble board on the grass
  • A camp fire
  • Lamb on a spit
  • Fairylights adorning all the trees
  • Crusty rolls made on site
  • A decadent brunch the next morning, brimming with eggs, bacon & chocolate milkshakes
  • Handmade Thank You gifts for everyone

It was to be a whimsical and fun spectacle, that whenever one of my guests thought of it it would involuntarily make them smile.

But I could not make it happen. It’s true I was in no financial situation to be able to create my dream 40th, but that aside – I was at the beginning of a downward spiral of self-doubt, a bout of Depression that would last over four years, and, a period of my life where I would not even know who I was. I didn’t know it at the time, but my fortieth birthday was the beginning of the loss of my identity.

I was to become utterly lost.

I had recently been approached by a local man for a physical relationship. Although I was quite clear that I was not interested in a purely physical relationship with a man as I now knew that I deserved to be with a respectful and loving partner, he pursued me with some vigour. So he made a small amount of effort spend time with me and my boys; sitting with me as I watered my front lawn, sharing a beer on my front verandah, or sharing a dirty martini and funny stories late at night as we both suffered from insomnia.

Then one blistering January afternoon, I was sitting in my little Beep Beep (car) with the air conditioner on absolutely full bore. My north-facing fibro house had turned into an oven on this 40*+ summer day and my trusty car was my only form of respite. It was so hot even my scalp was sweating!

Without warning the passenger door of my car opened and there was said gentleman, and he proceeded to inform me that he no longer wanted to spend any time with me as although he believed that he was no longer in love with his estranged wife (and mother of his four children) who had cheated on him and then thrown him out of his home, he was in fact not ready to pursue another relationship yet. Unless it was a purely physical one.

With that, he left.

And I sat in my Beep Beep and cried, hot salty tears. I cried because I had finally been strong enough to insist on what I believed I deserved and had missed out. I cried because I was hot in all the wrong ways. I cried because I was lonely, and broke and desperate for someone to love. A friend or a partner or family.

And I had noone.

And so the months ticked by from January to May. As my 40th drew closer, I discouraged any attempt by my few friends to have a party for me. I didn’t want to celebrate a birthday that brought me no real joy. I was not happy in life and didn’t want to pretend otherwise for others. However one of my friends thought my protestations to be false and truly believed that I should have a birthday. It was a milestone and I deserved a party.

So she went through my phone and found some contact numbers and organised a lunch for me.

A week before my birthday a box arrived from Sydney. A box I knew was from my ‘best friend’. A friend that I had been close to since we were 16. Twenty four years of our lives. We had survived our teens, and our twenties, and overseas adventures together, despite following very different paths and ending up in very different situations. I didn’t open my box on the morning of my birthday, as would have been my normal practice. I love surprises and I love being spoiled.

You see the morning of my fortieth was taken up by the needs of my Mother, who had insisted on coming down from Perth to see me on my birthday. Without giving away any of her confidences, I can only say that our relationship was hard work. For me anyway.

I finally had saved the money to have my car serviced (my present to myself – Happy 40th, Pia!) and had already fielded a phone call from my best Friend in Sydney. She mentioned a number of times that she was not flying over for a surprise visit and so I was not to expect it. I know that this sounds spectacularly weird, but it seems she was convinced that this was what I would have expected of her her. She had only a month prior, returned to work after twelve months maternity leave due to the birth of her second daughter. I didn’t for a minute contemplate that she would come to see me for my birthday. It just didn’t occur to me.

And so by 10am, I had fielded a couple of phone calls and seen to my Mother’s needs, and I had dropped my car to the auto electrician with a list of my car’s needs – and now finally I was in the shower. I was finally alone.

Until my Mum barged in and said that the auto electrician had rung and had asked if I really needed everything done, in particular one small but annoying task – to which she informed me that she had told them not to bother. The task was number one on my list that I had left with them. A task that had needed attention for three years and now I could finally afford to pay to get completed.

And so I emerged from my shower, dejected and full of dread for the day ahead. I hadn’t even dried my hair when my first birthday guest arrived. Bearing a gift from the local $2 shop that she informed me reminded her of our discussions of saving our pennies for a trip to the French countryside – a cardboard box with a picture of the Eiffel Tower. She then told me I need to get my glad rags on, as she was taking me out for a birthday lunch.

Yippee!

The town where I live is seaside and has the most wonderful beaches. Long white beaches where my dog(s) can romp. Deep blue sea that is rarely flat or still. Every now and again you can see a seal or dolphin fins. There is of course the obligatory seaside restaurants, which is where my birthday event was to take place. Waiting for me at the allotted table were two more friends one of whom looked like she was ready to throw a glass of water over the other – I was soon to learn why.

Why do some people complain so much
about their lives, like husbands, children, jobs, homes, pets
– when all they have to do is make change?
Why do people insist on being unhappy?

Now when do you think the real fun and games with my Mum began? Can you guess? I’m going to boring and tell you . . . the games begun as soon as the waitress arrived at our table and asked “would anyone like to order a drink?”. Well! Did she what!?!

But first, FIRST she had to (HAD TO) say . . . .

“Ooh I’d love a drink. But I don’t think I’m allowed to.
Am I allowed Pia?
Am I allowed to have a drink?”

So I spent the next two hours making polite conversation while every nerve, every sinew and every vessel in my body was SCREAMING for me to run away. To get away and be by myself. But I stayed.

I tried drink a revolting cocktail put in front of me, and I ate a meal I could not taste and I accepted two more gifts that were purchased by well meaning friends that in fact did not suit me or meet any of my needs.

My Mum spoke fondly of the gift she was giving me – the gift she ‘gives’ me every birthday and every Christmas – a promise to take me shopping for something that I need or want. Whatever that may be, and something I usually don’t receive. It’s been that way for over twenty years.

I’m told that it’s the thought that counts.

So the excruciating ordeal came to an end, with a jolly invitation from my Mother to everyone at the table to come back to my house to have some birthday cake. With a promise to all that the birthday cake, was in fact my favourite dessert. Finally, something I may actually like on my birthday – as my favourite dessert is pavlova with strawberries and cream. Yum! Anyone who has ever met me knows how much I LOVE pavlova.

So home we headed to my fibro shack to sing the obligatory song and enjoy the sugary goodness of my favourite dessert. God I was salivating all the way. We gathered in the front room, that was actually the largest part of my shop, and Mum brought in a white bakery box. The box was opened, candles stuck in and lit and then the song was sung. All the while my heart was turning to stone.

In the box was a cake with lots of cream and chocolate spindles – I had no idea what it was,
but it was not a pavlova.

My Mum then proudly instructed me to cut everyone a piece. So I did. With every cut and every serve my heart sank further and further down my body, heading to the bottom of my belly. God I wish this day would end. Then one of my friend’s piped up with a compliment to my Mum for the delicious Black Forest Cake, and asked me the last time I had had one. I had managed to this point to just cut, serve and keep my mouth shut. So when presented with the situation where I had to either lie or tell the truth and I genuinely did not have enough energy left to lie. So I told the truth.

“I hate Black Forest Cake, because it has fruit in it (cherries).
It’s actually my sister, S2’s, favourite dessert”

Now, my Mum has a particular talent for being dramatic and to ensure that she stays the centre of attention, especially with a few drinks under her belt. She has the knack for acting the part of martyr. We’re talking BAFTA quality acting! So despite the disappointment being my own, it was in fact my Mum who put her head in her hands and exclaimed loudly “I’m so stupid” “I can’t do anything right” “I’ve ruined everything!” Each proclamation was also embellished with “tsk” and “ugh”.

Such drama – over a cake.

An hour later, everyone bar my Mum has left and it is time to collect my car, minus the most important work, and try to salvage some sort of joy from the day. Or am I being ambitious? Despite my little house only having one bedroom, I manage to avoid my Mum for the better part of the evening, and she takes herself off to bed with more profuse apologies for the cake (’cause I really want to relive that moment!).

And I finally get a chance to open the box from Sydney. The contents of which, requires a blog post all of it’s own.

And thus – my 40th Birthday was over.

Thank fuck!

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What Treachery Is In Our Hearts?

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I am not proud of the woman I am.

I am not proud of how I think, or act or feel.

I have attempted my whole life to be an educated and enlightened person. Reading, watching, researching, learning and mostly listening. I try with deliberate intention to be a better person.

However, I still wallow in too much self-pity and remorse.

I am not grateful enough, for all the amazing elements of my rich life. The people I know, the gifts I have been given, the talents that I have.

Worst of all, however, is my bitterness.

My attention to the wrongs that have been aimed at me, by others, and the heartache that follows. I fail to implement all that I have been graced to learn, instead focusing on that which I do not have. It is like a sickness for which I refuse to take the medication. It’s a deliberate action by me – refusing to grow.

While it’s true that I have weathered the ultimate tsunami of Clinical Depression, and I have also survived much treachery from those that I have trusted with my love; the reality is, until I can be grateful for the lessons that I have learnt from ALL the wrongs, I am actioning a cancerous growth to fester in my soul.

The salve to my heartache and loneliness is already in me – I have the tools. But I ignore them. I hold on to my bitterness and then let this motivate my decisions and actions. It is all so, so . . . .

I am betraying myself.

I DO look at others in history who have strived against poor circumstance, who have seen a new reality in front of them and run and fought and clawed to reach it. I am in awe of these people.

Then I gaze upon on the intolerance and stupidity that still rages across the world. Isis extremists in Syria. Anti-immigration proponents in Australia. Elitist wealthy of Europe. Financiers in the USA.

Yes – I did just compare bankers and fundamentalist extremists!!

 I see the ‘dumbing-down’ of entire populations with ‘reality’ tv, and fear driven political policies, and media behemoths controlling not only content but also fact, and the veneer of ‘celebrity’, and the acceptance of violence in other nations as not important.

And I sit here and try to make sense of it.
And try to find a place within it.

And I fail.

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AP2009

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Medgar Evers – despite so much intolerable agony in life, he still maintained the belief that things would change. And they did.

Where did his strength and belief in himself come from?

Can you imagine living in a time and place where you and your family were not deemed to be a full human being? In every sense, you were accepted and promoted as not worthy or even worthy.

Humanity makes me sick sometimes.

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Buggar – My Black Dog Is Back :(

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On December 5th 2013, I was accused of physically assaulting two young children in my care. I was investigated by DCP (Dept of Child Protection Western Australia) and found to have no case to answer.

My employer deemed that I could have handled the situation more professionally,
a view that I now share.

My GP was concerned about my mental health and immediately referred me to a psychiatrist. He was an intelligent and empathic man about my age and prescribed additional medication for me. I was already consuming 300mg venlafaxine each day, and now it was necessary for me to add 30mg of mirtazapine.

I spent the majority of 2014 working so hard to get my life back on track. Seeking future income, trying to guard my heart against past & possible future hurts, building a business from the ashes of a failed one, trying again and again to conquer my addiction to sugar. And I also looked towards a way to wean myself from the need of at least one of my drugs.

And so for the last six months, the first half of 2015, I have gone from 30mg to 15 mg per day of my mirtazapine. Then 7.5 mg per day. Then every second day and now I am at every third day.

A month ago I also managed to kibosh sugar from my life. After two full years, I did it. I don’t crave coke or chocolate or ice-cream. I no longer need hot chocolate, cakes or biscuits. I’m not hungry all day and I only eat REAL food.

But . . . . .

despite all these incredible triumphs, my Depression is back.

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And I’m scared.

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We Are Not Wholly Bad Or Good

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Who live our lives under Milk Wood,
And Thou, I know, wilt be the first
To see our best side, not our worst.

Dylan Thomas

How much do you berate yourself for past indiscretions?
Not at all?
A little?
A lot?

 I have a great deal of trouble trying to reconcile myself with mistakes that I have made. For a long time, I have been the ‘scape goat’ in my family. I have always admitted to my mental health issues and often apologise for what I have done wrong, but

(and it’s a big BUT)

there are mistakes that I have NOT apologised for, and there are situations where the anguish felt by others had nothing to do with with me – even though I was perceived as the instigator/wrong-doer.

And the accumulated guilt from all those years of being held responsible, along with genuine mistakes that I have made eat away at my insides. I have absolutely no idea as to how to deal with this ‘guilt’.

No idea what-so-ever.

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2013-12-17-That-Thing

Source: HappyJar.com

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