… But alas! My wrath is masking the truth of the picture. My mind wants to escape the truth, so it has chosen to focus upon anger and to subsequently misdirect it. I like it when it does that. It is far better to blame someone else. And even better to blame the arrogant universe at large. What I need is a scapegoat (on an interesting aside, why do they call it a scapegoat? It’s one of those odd, ridiculous things that no-one ever questions, yet they use the term nonetheless. Why goat? Did people used to blame things on goats? They probably did, as well they should have – useless bleating tits of creatures. Maybe they are to blame and no one really knows it. They sit there in their fields, and on their little rocky mountain crags, acting all innocent and naive. But are they really? Maybe they’re actually secretly planning the downfall of each of us in their tiny masochistic minds …. smugly smiling to themselves at the misfortune of others. Lousy bastards).
Ah! Yet another deviation from the truth at hand! Brilliant! What fraudulence the mind is capable of, to deflect and distract you from your own accountability! Well Mind, I’m sorry, but the time has come for you to step up to the plate (that’s another one, what plate and why a plate and why step up to it?) and acknowledge your accountability. Yes, I should think you’d quiver in your boots! But I don’t care. I don’t even care that it’s my own mind, my own boots, and my own madness that is producing it all. I can direct my anger anywhere I want. It is now aimed at everything and everyone. No one is safe. And it’s all because it’s easier than directing it at myself – where it belongs. Yes … it is all my fault. I am to blame. I am the stupid scapegoat. Though, when it’s you I guess you can’t escape it. Not in the end. And the end is so present. It has been made so violently real from recent events. Any minute or moment could be the random, meaningless and unjustified end; the end to me, to my life, the end to everything. And the thing I am realising is that everything that has been, and that will be, is my fault. Please, allow me to exemplify; and by that I mean to explain, in great logical detail, how every shit occurrence of my life is actually my own fault, though I have futilely attempted to blame others in the past. Let’s start as early as we can shall we?
The first terrible thing in my life would have to have been my parents divorcing when I was eight. I never thought it was my fault, up until now. I have decided presently that it is, in fact, entirely my fault. One of the main reasons dad left mum was because she let herself go and put on a few pounds (well, okay, maybe more than a few). And it’s not just me making shit up – they both acknowledged to me that her weight was a major contributing factor. Now, Dad has always been a very health conscious man, so this weight gain conflicted with his core values. He fell in love with a lovely, thin, healthy woman, who incidentally turned out to be much better suited to him in the long run. I have deduced that mum would not have let herself go if she hadn’t had a child to take up all her time and energy. Everyone knows that unless you’re a celebrity and can pay for surgery, along with personal trainers and chefs, every woman puts on weight after giving birth. So if mum hadn’t given birth, and hadn’t had to look after me, she would have remained thin and gorgeous forever. The divorce is my fault for reorganising her priorities.
The next hideous episode was getting kicked out of my group of friends in Year Nine, and subsequently suffering vicious bullying. Although I pleaded innocence at the time, it really was my fault because secretly I knew that I didn’t belong with that motley crew, and I resented them all for it. They knew I was different. I knew I was different. I was too deep, too emotional, too serious, too ‘airy-fairy’, in my teenage years. And I felt superior to them. I admit it. I thought I kept it well hidden, but obviously not. They knew I was a fraud and they kicked me out because of it. And then they taunted, teased and bullied me. My grandiose self-image of depth made them do it – sift out the imposter. And, in hindsight, thank god they did, because the group of friends I ended up with yielded my life long best friend, Georgia. It still sucked balls at the time though.
Now we get to the really fun part … relationships. Admittedly, some were good ones, but they were mostly bad ones. And there were a lot of them. And they all ended, for reasons that I blamed squarely on the other party, and would have quite happily and self-righteously continued to do so, had it not been for this temporary bout of madness. I will now, for anonymity’s sake, refer to them all by pseudonyms (and I must say the idea of deciding upon more suitable and fitting names for each of them actually quite excites me). If these ramblings ever get published, and they probably will because I’m particularly brilliant whilst mad, then I don’t want to be sued for defamation of character, even though I tell the absolute truth and I am in fact taking all the blame. So, let’s begin …
My first relationship was actually a good one; he was one of the truly decent guys. Let’s call him Antonio. This relationship started when I was fifteen, and lasted for two and a half years. It was one of my more successful attempts at partnering. I was just about to turn eighteen when it ended, and although it was my suggestion, it was a mutual break-up. But, at the time, I entirely blamed him for the relationship’s failure. I put it down to his inability to really understand me, and the fact that he wasn’t thoughtful enough. In hindsight he was very thoughtful, but as I had not yet experienced the true depths of male selfishness that the universe was capable of producing, I foolishly thought he could have tried harder. This was my eighteen year old reasoning anyway. But, further analysis has forced me to concede that this was not the real reason it ended. It ended because I was in-love with someone else at the same time as Antonio. Interestingly enough, that ‘someone else’ happens to be the father of the child I am presently carrying. Despite my genuine feelings for Antonio, I knew that Ross loved me, and I found it too difficult to resist his affections. So I dallied with him – not slept – dallied. Being sixteen at the time, we held hands secretly under the table, stole a few kisses, and were guilty of other relatively innocent interludes. Antonio was well aware of Ross’ desires (as was everyone in high-school – gossip factory that it is.) So, although we continued on with the relationship, it was doomed to failure as soon as I stole a sneaky kiss with one of his friends. My first relationship, in truth, ended because I emotionally cheated on him for years.
After that relationship ended there was a six month drought, before ‘Donald’ entered the picture. I became quietly enchanted by his romantic, introverted ways. He was a librarian who played drums in a band (and, yes, I do realise the unlikelihood of the two interests). This affair lasted a grand total of a month. It ended because I thought at the time that he was far too weak for me. I now realise that it ended because I was far too much for him to handle. You see, I desperately craved so much more love than he could offer because I had been loved by two men for so long, and they had both suddenly, callously and unjustifiably stripped their affections from me … bastards. So, in truth, I was too demanding and needy, and that drove Donald away.
The next affair followed shortly after. I met ‘Caulfield’ through the same friend as I met Donald. This relationship can be surmised fairly succinctly. Caulfield was a schizophrenic. He was, in fact, quite mad, hence the reference to ‘Catcher in the Rye’. The end of this one was entirely my fault because I should have known better in the first place. I should have realised that when he started demanding tangible proof that I was real, that it was probably a good time to back away and head for the door. Yet I didn’t, because I pitied him and thought I could help him. I couldn’t. No further explanation required.
The next encounter was my first truly horrendous relationship. It started when I was eighteen, and lasted a total of three hideous months. This man, Bob, was significantly older than I was – he was thirty-four. I met him, most ironically, whilst acting in a rendition of ‘An Ideal Husband’. We both had minor parts in the first act, so somehow we found ourselves talking through every play as we waited for curtain call. Though I loathe, even in hindsight, to credit him with anything decent, Bob was a very deep and intelligent man, with a good sense of humour. We actually had great conversations, and we laughed a lot together, which was probably just part of his heinous pattern of reeling in younger women. He quickly became controlling. I realised the relationship was not going to work when he told me, through his tears one night, that the last time a girl had broken up with him he tried to gas himself in his car. Okay, I’m moving toward the door now … Of course I blamed his demented personality at the time, but, in truth, it was my fault because I should have realised that an older man like that must be emotionally unhinged, and only interested in the physical attributes of an eighteen year old. Nonetheless, I was particularly traumatised at the time and I remained so through many subsequent relationships.
After Bob I decided that the most prudent way to get over him was to have another brief encounter with Antonio – the good guy from high-school. It ended fairly promptly because I had a pregnancy scare, and he told me that nothing would make him want to be with me again. He said that the sex was just there and was ‘familiar’. So, he became a nasty prick. But, in truth, it was my fault because I fucked him up in high-school and turned him into the bastard he became.
I met ‘Philip’ not long after, and that by far is my best meeting story. I was eighteen, and was staying with my cousin Trudy in Melbourne for a few weeks. I was aiming to be there for the birth of her first child, but incidentally the little tart was so overdue that I missed the birth despite delaying my flight. Whilst staying there Trudy’s other cousin (from the other side of the family) took me to a footy game at the MCG, and there I met Philip. I had an ecstatically fabulous night, and a great first kiss, which led to several fantastic dates. I fell for him before I even left to go back home. We decided to try out the long distance thing, but being the impassioned creature that I was, I decided to move to Melbourne. I deferred my bachelor’s degree and moved. I stayed there – in that huge, dark, isolated house – for nine months, before I sheepishly returned home. The honeymoon phase had ended quickly and I was left with a man who whinged about his job, played x-box all day, and generally ignored me. I became very depressed, and quite self-destructive. Of course I blamed the failure of the relationship entirely on him and his neglectful character. But, in truth, it was my fault because I sought emotional comfort and intimacy with other men, because I wasn’t getting it from him. I knew I deserved to be punished by him and so I stayed for way too long.
When I got back from Melbourne I was a tad bit jaded. As such the next few relationships followed quite quickly and in close succession, perhaps with some overlap. I met ‘Jamie’ at uni, in an Australian Politics unit, and he was, in all fairness, quite intelligent. I also happened to meet ‘Jasper’ in the same unit. Whilst dating Jamie I saw Jasper a few times, but decided it was best left well alone when he told me that he was a heroin addict. He was, incidentally, having a shot of whiskey at eight am before class as he told me this. It was, of course, entirely my fault for not realising that anyone that attractive and opinionated must have a dark side.
Now, back to Jamie; whilst going out with him I met his flatmate, ‘Cricket’ (called so not because he liked the sport, but because his appearance resembled a cricket). To really turn the knife, I started going out with Cricket, who had won me over with his romantic charm. Jamie threatened to throw himself off a bridge, but luckily it proved to be an idle threat.
I dated Cricket for three horrendous months. He became steadily more controlling. The relationship ended when, after trying to break it off for the hundredth time, he stalked me and came to my house one night and had to be punched in the head by my friend Ivan due to his increasingly dangerous level of insanity. I then had to get a restraining order, which he fought me over in court, and lost. But this was not before I got a call from the hospital in the middle of the night, saying that he had slashed his wrists and was asking for me. I panicked, and reasoned that because he had a child I had to go and try to talk some sense into him. I went, and tried, but I couldn’t get through to him.
Now, in this particular case, one could easily be found guilty of placing the blame entirely on the insane cricket. But, in truth, the whole thing was my fault, for two reasons. First, I shouldn’t have gone there in the first place given that I was dating Jamie when I met him. Secondly, I was a fool for thinking I could save Cricket from his jaded, traumatic past. In the pursuit of this I allowed him to control me until it was too late. I ignored all the warning signs, and there were plenty of them. In the end I failed to deliver salvation.
The relationship that was to directly follow was the most significant of my life, for it was with Ross. Ross and I had remained friends through all these hideous relationships, though his feelings for me had never changed, which I quite enjoyed. Ross supported me through the Cricket debacle, after which we finally decided to be together. It was perfect; perhaps too perfect. We got engaged very quickly, when we were twenty-one. It was a long engagement, and we were due to get married on March 11th 2006. This didn’t happen. Instead he broke my heart, lied to me and destroyed me for a time.
True, the acts that undid our relationship were of his doing, but still, it was my fault. When we got together I had already been in loads of relationships, as my prior testimony has revealed. I knew what I wanted and what I didn’t. So when I had what I wanted I seized it and I asked him to marry me too quickly. I knew it was right, that he was ‘the one’, so I pressured him into a commitment before he was ready. He, on the other hand, had not had much relationship experience because he had spent so long pining after me. As a result he was at a completely different stage in life to me. He didn’t know what he wanted; he didn’t know what a bad relationship was so was unable to recognise a really good one. He also didn’t know how to handle the normal pressures of a relationship adequately because he hadn’t had them before. I was a master of them. So I handled the relationship well and thought it was perfect. He wanted it to be perfect, so he struggled to be the man that I wanted. He drove himself into the ground until he needed to escape the pressure. Because he didn’t want to lose me, he resorted to sneaky and deceitful endeavours that came out suddenly in the end, two weeks before we were due to be married. The truth broke me apart. We broke up. It was the first time I had known true heart-break. But nonetheless, it was, in truth, my fault because, as I said, I should have acknowledged our different stages and given him more time to adjust. Then maybe things would have turned out differently.
Being twenty-three at the time, I decided that the best way to deal with such trauma was to find a batch of highly unsuitable men to make me feel attractive and worthy. Not more than a few months after the doomed wedding date I found ‘Brandon’ at a bar. He seemed like a tall enough, handsome enough, young enough and stupid enough fellow to enhance my waning self-esteem, so I went on a date with him, and slept with him. The next day he kissed me on the forehead and I drove away, never to hear from him again, which suited me fine.
Finding that this odd encounter had done little to boost my self-esteem, I quickly set my sights on ‘Garth’, who was the son of a work colleague. The attraction for me was that he happened a be a Born-Again Christian, who did not believe in sex before marriage. We’ll see about that! I thought. I figured that if I could get him to rethink this entire life philosophy, then that would obviously mean that my attractiveness and seductiveness was well beyond question. He did rethink it, and rather quickly at that. But alas, though making me feel slightly better about my looks, it did little else. I even felt slightly guilty for being so callous. The whole thing was my fault for being so heinous and wounded – poor little Garth.
I then found a delightful little surprise in my Latin class at uni, ‘Alex’, who I developed a serious crush on after a few witty conversations. He was incredibly intelligent, funny and analytical, and we just completely ‘clicked’. Unfortunately he also happened to be married. As my moral compass was slightly damaged at the time, I considered this nothing more than an alluring set-back. The odd thing was that Alex and I did not have an emotional connection at all – it was purely physical and intellectual. It was great, and I still think of it very fondly. We slept together a few times, and then remained good friends, so much so that he provided excellent and amusing counsel during my relationship to follow. Alex provided NO source of animosity or trauma and so for once there was no blame or fault – bless him.
However, the same cannot be said for ‘Mike’, who I met about four months after breaking up with Ross, when I was still vulnerable and traumatised, and had zero remaining self-respect. I was feeling particularly arrogant the evening I met him, as I had just won an award at uni. I was drunk with alcohol and power, accompanied by Georgia, celebrating at a bar in Subiaco. Mike and his friend lured us in to a game of pool. I fell into a relationship with Mike quickly, and fell hard. And, indeed, he remains a very decent man – just not the one for me. We were completely different and we pretty much spent two years arguing about whose outlook on life was the right one, to no avail of course. We loved each other. But our complete difference – and I mean complete – drove us mad, and eventually severed us apart in a slow and excruciating way. Though I mostly blamed him at the time, it was, in truth, my fault because I shouldn’t have gotten into a serious relationship with him when I was so damaged. I knew within two weeks that it was never going to work – that we were far too different and that our lives were completely incompatible – but I fell in-love with him anyway, so I futilely tried to make it work until it nearly destroyed me.
The next one is a gold story that deserves a book of its own to do it justice. In brief I actually met ‘Derrick’ in Hawaii when on a drunken world adventure with Georgia. He happened to be in the first bar we went into. We had an immediate connection. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, so much so that I am still mystified by it. I spent two wonderfully hysterical days with him. Nothing physical happened because I was with Mike at the time, and also because Derrick had to audacity to be married, with two kids. But the connection was there nonetheless. It was instant and it was so strong and intense. We bonded over our broken hearts, mine over Ross, and him over his wife’s infidelity with his friend. After two days I left Hawaii to embark on the rest of my trip, but we kept in contact via email. It must also be noted that Derrick did not live in Hawaii, but rather in Rhode Island. He just HAPPENED to be working for the Navy in Hawaii at the time. Anyhow, we kept in contact, and the connection grew stronger even though we were eras apart.
Then, in the strangest set of coincidences humanely possible, after I broke up with Mike the following year, Derrick informed me that he had to come to PERTH, of all places, to work, for a month. How outrageous! He was here for a whole month. We had a full-on, magnificent, juicy, delightful, traumatic affair. I fell so in-love with him. I thought he was my soul-mate. But then he went back to his wife, as I knew he should and would, and I was left alone – angry at the universe for providing a set of unlikely circumstances that would deliver my soul mate and then ruthlessly rip him from me. But, the trauma of it, in truth, was my fault because I knew he was married and that it could never be. I never wanted him to leave his wife. But come on! What are the chances of all that happening!? It seemed like fate at the time, and that’s my fault for thinking that fate would eventually deliver different results than the ridiculously crap ones I had been receiving for over a decade. I was so hopelessly messed up after he left. I couldn’t make sense of it, so I fell into a massive self-destructive decline.
During this decline I met ‘Corey’ in Northbridge, who wooed me and then never called. I should have realised that was doomed from the start as the first words out of his mouth were, ‘Do you have a joint’? Then I met ‘Devon’ at another bar, some months later. As chivalrous as he was he did admit to me that he was bipolar on our second date. I tried to save him and to get him to open up. I should have left it there. But I didn’t, and then I got upset and confused when he stopped calling. It was entirely my fault because I should have realised that when he told me he couldn’t handle relationships, and that he last time one had ended he drove himself into the desert and attempted, quite unsuccessfully, to suffocate himself with a plastic bag, that that one was probably to be put in the “too hard” basket. It was not so much the attempted suicide that should have bothered me, but rather the fact that he was stupid enough to think that he could suffocate himself with a plastic bag.
Still, it didn’t take me long to find ‘Danny’. In all fairness though he found me, at mine and my mother’s annual fancy-dress Christmas party. He was the son of a lady mum worked with, and he was incredibly funny and attractive, being Scottish and all. He told me he loved me on the second date. We got straight into a serious relationship. He introduced me at parties as his future wife. Then he admitted, one month later, that he had not one, but two other girlfriends. Indeed, this could be construed as being his fault, but in truth, it was all my fault for not realising that a man who makes such extraordinary claims so early on is clearly mad, unstable, or deranged, if not all three, and certainly not honest. It was also my fault for needing to be loved so much that I believed the fool.
A few months after that, fresh in the New Year, I started a teaching internship at UWA. It was at the initial drinks with this crowd, that I met ‘Paul’, who was acquainted with a fellow intern. He was doing his Masters in – get this – Water Management, of all things. He was highly impressed by the fact that I was doing a PhD. Being a good ten years older than me, Paul was a very academic, practical, fit and highly unemotional man, who also happened to sing in a Barber Shop Quartet. The relationship started with dating, got demoted to friendship, then moved into friendship ‘with benefits’. Then it went back to just friendship, before another spell of friendship with benefits, and so forth, for a whole year. In the end I thought it was worth giving an actual relationship a go, but I was callously turned down due to ‘incompatibility’. But, in truth, it was really my fault for thinking that a relationship with an unemotional man was either prudent or desirable. It was also my fault for giving the benefits without a commitment.
I met ‘Sam’ whilst celebrating my twenty-sixth birthday at the Hippy Club (whilst enjoying a ‘friendship’ phase with Paul). The select group of revellers included my mother (naturally), Debbie-with-one-leg, and Georgia. It was mum who introduced me to ‘Sam’, as he was a fellow teacher at her school. He was, by all accounts, both surprised, and impressed, to see her out at such an establishment. Sam seemed like a dream come true; the perfect guy. I fell madly in lust with him. But he quickly turned out to be an idiot who only cared about going out with his beefy mates and drinking until he was guaranteed not to remember any of the previous night’s proceedings. When his true bastard status was revealed I felt betrayed and unjustly misinformed as to his initial perfection. But, in truth, it was my fault for falling too quickly, for letting someone in too quickly, for admitting my vulnerability and explaining my deep needs in the futile hope that he would meet them.
Shortly after I acquired ‘Chad’ at another bar, and I did actually have quite a bit of fun with him to begin with. Being freshly twenty-one, he made me laugh, and that’s what I felt like I needed at the time. But then he pressured me for a commitment, which I stupidly gave. I noticed something was wrong about a month later. Then I found out he had gotten another girl pregnant. When I tried to question him further about it, I was thrown out of his car in my driveway as he proceeded to scream away in his shitty car, never to contact me again. I couldn’t understand what had just happened. I still don’t know. This man – or I should say boy – had told me he loved me, and that he’d never felt this way about anyone. Based on these prior exclamations of affection, I was dumbfounded when he just left. I didn’t understand, and I needed to make sense of it, so I kept trying to contact him, but he refused to take my calls. No explanation was ever given, and no closure and I hate lack of closure. I became so depressed. I couldn’t make sense of it, or of any of my useless relationships, and I couldn’t understand why I didn’t get different results with any of them. They all ended in disaster, no matter how much work I did on myself or how much soul searching I did to try to change things. The results were always the same – abandonment, betrayal, disappointment or heartache. It seemed like that would never change.
My mum was in Bali at the time, so I was alone in the house when Chad abandoned me. Completely befuddled by my long history of torrid relationships, I got very drunk one night and took a pile of Xanax. It was, I suppose, a very half-hearted attempt at suicide, though I didn’t really want to die, I just wanted all the thoughts to stop. I wanted some peace! I ended up in hospital. Chad’s unexplained abandonment was the final drop of icing on my poo soaked, monstrously heinous, and increasingly humungous relationship cake. But, in truth, it was my fault for going out with someone so young and immature in the first place, and for letting him into my heart far too quickly. It was also clearly my own fault for ending up in hospital. I was too weak to take it all so I did something really stupid; my fault … all my fault.
After the hospital incident I fell into a period of being really great, so much so that I went on a health kick. That was until ‘Dave’’ had the audacity to wander into my life. Now, let me make this perfectly clear – I had learned my lesson and wasn’t looking for a man at ALL. I wasn’t going out, drinking or partying; in fact, I had locked myself up in my house, with the unfortunate misconception that if I didn’t go out, then the scum of the universe could not find me and I would be safe for a while until I was ready and strong enough to venture out into the wondrously shit land of random chance. But Dave foiled my cunning plan as he HAPPENED to live next door. While I was a sick hermit he pretended to be all friendly and helpful. He installed mum’s dishwasher. He was much older than I, and I opened up to him about my life and my heartache, as he did his. We bonded. And he was literally right next door. Then I made the mistake of letting it go way too far one night and I slept with him. The next day I woke up and was confronted by his receptionist, whom he had been having an affair with, despite the fact that SHE was married. Dave told me that he couldn’t see me anymore because SHE meant too much too him. Then he let her verbally attack me for several hours and I stupidly let her. I broke so hard after that – mainly because I had talked to this man about all my problems. He knew about the hospital incident and that I was trying desperately to heal. And he fucked me over anyway. I was just a piece of meat to him, as his receptionist mistress labelled it, while he stood there and said nothing. This all may seem very cruel, and indeed it was, but, in truth, it was still my fault for letting him in and believing that he was a good man who understood my feelings and identified with them. It was my fault for including the boundaries of my FRONT YARD in my abstaining-from-men hermit plan. I also should have known that a 42 year old was looking at me as a piece of vulnerable meat, ripe for the taking. And I let him do it.
And so finally ends the relationship ‘I’m at fault’ list. My goodness, I’m exhausted just from writing it – no wonder I was so angry and confused at the time! After this last unsavoury encounter Ross came back into my life, the one person that truly understood me. I was still wounded and quite erratic. But then something most unexpected happened. I fell pregnant to him. Though it was unplanned and I found it very daunting to begin with, as did he, it turned out to be the one stoke of extremely too-good-to-be-true luck in this otherwise ghastly picture. And, as it turns out, it was. I was so very happy. I had discovered true happiness. But, as we now know, that can only last so long. It all started to go wrong again when I was merely four and a half months pregnant. My beloved gramps died. My gramps was the man I most admire, and I adored him. He was an inspiration to me and he lived his life beautifully for nearly 95 years. We all knew the end would come soon.
But we didn’t expect it to come the way it did. He was in an extraordinary amount of pain for the last couple of days of his life. He had lived so well, and had been so healthy, he never complained about anything. He was truly content with his life and had no regrets. We expected him to drift off to utopia peacefully, at the right time. Instead he thrashed about; writhing in pain for 48 hours, until salvation finally came for him. I watched my mother agonise over his suffering. I agonised with her. But her suffering was so much worse, both hers and her brothers. I stayed with gramps, stroking his hair and holding his hand, for several hours before he died, willing him to go peacefully, willing my long since gone Grammy to come and release him. I tried to get the nurses to give him more medication to ease his pain, but they wouldn’t. I watched him suffer, and I let my poor devoted mum watch her father suffer. And then, after a few hours, I left and went home, mainly because I had to take my old aunty home. I left my mother there alone to watch him as he died. Then I came back and got her, hours later, when she called, with a shaking voice, to tell me that he had gone. Now, granted, it was not my fault that he died. He was old, he had a magnificent life and it was his time. However, it was my fault that he suffered so much. I should have done more. I should have argued, should have called the doctor, should have had him taken to hospital, should have broken into the storeroom and stole morphine if I had to. But I didn’t. I watched him. And I let my mother watch him. And then I left her alone to deal with his departing. I wasn’t there for her, or him, in the end.
Together mum, Ross and I got through the grief. I helped mum. I took care of her. I also took care of my baby. I didn’t drink, and I didn’t touch a cigarette. I delivered a breathtaking eulogy at the funeral. I made it through somehow. And things were starting to look brighter again. I found out I was having a son a week later. I was so happy. I thought some of my gramps’ spirit would now be imbued in my son. I was moving on, looking forward to my life.
Then, three weeks after my gramps passed, I got the call that changed my life forever. My mum’s principal called me, saying that she’d had a fall and had been taken to hospital. I got into my car and screamed up there – worried, but not too worried, as she’d had dizzy spells and fallen before. As I waited in the little emergency room, my worry increased. And then I found out that she had died. She had gone without any warning; without so much as a goodbye. Now is not the time to relive it in detail, but that time will come.
When I am stronger I will describe to you, in intimate and devastating detail, what that day felt like from start to end … but not now. What’s important for our purposes now is my realisation that her death is my fault. It is my fault because of the amount of stress that I caused her. She had a heart condition – had it since she was seventeen. But she never let it stop her doing anything and I do mean anything. Her vivacious grasp on life put me to shame. I knew she had this heart condition. I caused her so much stress in my adolescence, with my depth and my self-abuse and depression. But somehow she managed to cope and support me through it all, as a single parent. Until she got to this year. I am solidly convinced that the events of this year finished off her heart. When I overdosed in January it broke her completely. She told me that I’d aged her ten years, and that I wouldn’t understand her pain and worry until I had a child of my own. How tragically ironic that I now know exactly what she meant.
My choice to take those stupid pills ended her life. Yet I am still here. She nursed me back to health, and her love and nurturing spirit brought me back to life. But it did so at a price; the price of her own life. And then, to make matters worse, when her father died I left her to deal with it on her own. I wasn’t by her side when he died. I abandoned her in that one significant and traumatic moment. And it polished her off. Her zestful abundant heart could not take it. It gave out. Her heart gave out because of me. I was the centre of her world; her only child. And I can blame men and the heartbreak she suffered at the hands of men this year (which I still maintain aided in her death), but when it comes down to it, in truth, she would have been able to handle all that if I was okay, if I hadn’t caused her so much stress and worry. I killed her. It’s my fault. And that’s why she didn’t say goodbye. That’s why she continues to ignore me in my nightmares – because she blames me. As rightly she should. It is my fault. I, the centre of her universe, broke her heart so completely that it gave in without warning. She was taken from me suddenly because I did not deserve her. And I cannot escape it. Not ever.
That brings me to where I am right now. Now I have other people who love me, and whom I love, who I continue to stress and worry because of me. So who’s to say the same thing won’t happen to them? Especially now that I’m grieving so intensely – their worry and stress over me is worse than it’s ever been! Loving me will probably polish them off too. Not only did I put dad and Jane through the suicide debacle also, but now they have to see me through this grief, and they constantly worry about me. And dad already has blood pressure problems, so something could easily happen to him. He’ll probably drop dead from worrying about me and trying to help me. And then there’s my beloved Ross, who’s trying so hard to help me, and is doing a damn good job. Ross, who I’m falling more in-love with every day; Ross, who I’m relying on and cleaving to for salvation. The pressure of it will surely drive him mad. But he’ll feel obliged to see me through it, to stay with me, because I’m carrying his child. He’s obliged to stay. It’s not a choice. He would have had such a better life with someone else who didn’t have this baggage; someone who was less complicated and traumatised, who could just love him the way he deserves to be loved and who could take care of him. I should leave him so he’ll be happier and safer. It seems that loving me ends only in disaster. He’ll either be taken away by death because I’m not allowed to be as happy as he makes me, or he’ll eventually leave because he can’t take it anymore and I bring him no joy – just suffering and frustration. And I wouldn’t blame him if he did. It would be perfectly understandable.
I should just make the decision for him. He’d be much happier. I love him so much, that’s all I want – for him to be safe and happy. And I don’t believe that a life with me can give that to him. I should just drive away, right now, to some-place where he and dad won’t find me. I should be alone in my grief, it’s what I deserve. But I could be happy then too, knowing that they’re both better without me and the suffering I inevitably bring without intending to.
Now there is nothing to do but sit with my old foe Grief, smoking, as I contemplate just how much I have ruined in my own life. I realise now just how accountable I am.
I just need one more night; one more hour. To tell her all the things I needed to tell her before she left. I need to tell her how great she was, what a good job she did, what a fantastic mother she was. I need to tell her how much I loved her, adored her, how she was an inspiration to me. I need to tell her how I didn’t mean to cause her so much stress, and how sorry I am. I need to tell her how I would do anything to take it back, to make her life better. I would do anything to make her stay. Anything …
I storm through the front door in the middle of the night, completely devastated. Another bastard has just completely fucked me over. I feel so used and betrayed. I am so tired, exhausted and freshly angry. I shut the door and lean against it for a second to catch my breath. I wonder if mum’s awake. I quietly pad to her bedroom door and peer in, all teary eyed and hopeful.
She lays motionless for a second and then sits upright. ‘What’s wrong darling?’ she says, as she takes in my appearance. With relief surging through my body, I throw myself on her bed and start sobbing. She gets out of bed, places a blanket over me and sits on the side of the bed, in the niche between my legs and belly. She always sat there when I was crying on the bed. She gently put her tiny hand on my thigh reassuringly and says, ‘Darling, whatever’s the matter? What’s happened?’
Sobbing, I relay the whole sordid tale, leaving out no details. I get even angrier as I relive it, and I stop sobbing as the anger begins to overwhelm the heartbreak. She listens to my rant and compassionately strokes my leg. When I’m done I lay there fuming and whimpering. I am so comforted by her presence and her gentle nurturing touch.
She waits a moment, and then says, ‘I warned you sweetheart. I was worried this would happen. That ungrateful, nasty, short, little man. He clearly doesn’t realise what he’s missing out on’.
I wail in protest, ‘He said I wasn’t special, that I was just there! So he does know and he doesn’t want me anyway! No-one wants me! No-one good is ever going to love me!’
She snuggles in closer to me and softly but forcefully says, ‘Darling, that’s simply not true. They all want to be with you. It’s you that needs to perhaps exercise some more stringent standards to filter out these hideous, pathetic specimens. They’re too stupid and lowly to realise what they’ve got. But you know I bet he feels really bad about it now, and I hope he regrets it for the rest of his life.’ She is quite satisfied with this assessment.
I start to feel better. I am both placated and amused by her perception of my love life. I say, ‘I should have stood up for myself, but I didn’t want to be nasty’. She nods her head in agreement, as she says ‘No, nastiness is never the answer, I didn’t bring you up that way. However, in this case – as in most cases with you – the lousy bastard could do with a taste of his own selfish nastiness. Remember they all have to be punished Rebecca, for your father and for Ross’.
I stare at her, awe-struck, and blurt out, ‘That’s terrible advice!’
This causes her to get her nervous hysteria – big time. And then, as my befuddlement turns to amusement, I too am rolling on the bed, laughing with her and at her. We laugh hysterically for ages. Then she stands up and says, ‘Come on, I’ll get us a scotch’.