Time to ‘fess up and reveal my true agenda here…
Growing up, I was always a highly-strung perfectionist. I was paralysed by the fear of what others thought of me and could work myself into such a state of anxiety and panic that I would get physically sick. I had stomach ulcers at 15 and most of my teen years were spent just being angry and sad. On the face of it, everything was fine, but internally it was a struggle – a big one. And that’s all I knew. I figured that’s how everyone felt at some time.
Then I met Sparky, fell in love, studied, travelled, explored, settled down. I felt more sure of myself, slightly less concerned of others’ opinions, but still angry. I had a really short fuse. I could be incredibly hurtful.
We bought a house in the inner suburbs, got married, enjoyed all that newlywed life brought. I started a business, built it from the ground up.
Life was good.
One night, Sparky was assaulted by a group of young guys on his way home from the pub. I will never forget that night and the state of him as we rode in the ambulance to hospital. They stole his wedding ring, beat him to a pulp, took his keys, phone, wallet and money. Said they’d kill him because they knew where we lived. Spent the night prank-calling his parents, saying the most hideous things.
A month or so after, we discovered I was pregnant. Shocked and incredibly happy, we shared the news with our families.
Not long after, I was approached and indecently assaulted by a man as I was walking to work. I was 100 metres from home. We reported it to police, sat through interviews and line-ups and eventually positively identified the man. I knew who he was from day one though – I had to walk past his house every day to get to work.
Sparky and I no longer felt safe or happy living where we were, so we sold up and moved to a tiny house in the Blue Mountains – close to both our families. We were happier and felt at home immediately.
Fast-forward: 2009 sees us welcome a beautiful new baby, a huge business opportunity and 12 months of self-imposed torture. I was doing nothing well and was awful to live with. I was angry again, tired, sad, stressed and numb. I loved Isla so much, but there was a blockage there and I didn’t know how to shift it. I didn’t know if I could. Maybe this was motherhood?
I closed myself off from the world, immersed myself in work and mothering. I didn’t see friends, didn’t return phonecalls, never attended mother’s group and hated drop-in visitors. The more isolated I became, the unhappier I was, so the more I wanted to shut out the world.
We discover we’re expecting another bub. Obviously our tiny cottage wouldn’t cut it for much longer, so we decided to extend and renovate. I project manage. I run the business. I also look after Isla full-time.
I have a vivid memory of driving to mum and dad’s house in tears, and just collapsing when I arrived. I had nothing left. Striving for whatever imaginary ideal I had in mind had left me completely and utterly depleted. I closed my business the next day and had my first decent sleep in over a year.
Renovations go smoothly, if stressfully, and I go into labour the day we’re moving back in.
Toby arrives, healthy and beautiful and I feel at peace. For a while.
Early in the year things get dark for me. I am sadder and angrier and stranger than I’ve ever been. Thank God, I turned to Sparky in despair. Within 24 hours we’re in to see our GP, a week and I’m seeing the best counsellor and psychiatrist. All agree that I have post-natal depression. I’m on medication within 2 weeks and starting to feel more like me than I have in years.
Fast-forward: Intensive work with both my psychologist and psychiatrist, and I cannot tell you how alive and vibrant and well I feel. We have concluded that anxiety and depression have been part of my life for many years, and the insane events of the past three years have simply brought them to the fore.
I am clear-headed, in blissful love with our two kids, a partner to Sparky once more, and I feel like I have something to offer. Because I’m clear-headed I can listen to the voice inside that tells me,
“Slow. Down. You know what’s important.”
So I need to slow down. I need to simplify. I need to re-evaluate our priorities. I need to have less and be more.
I need to look at our home and all it entails – family, relationships, health, house, garden, kitchen – and slow it all down. Leave space for life to happen.
Now it’s my hope that some of the things I’ve learned already will help you in your journey to living a slower, simpler life. And the journey I take from here on out will be one I can share with you.
(And I promise, it will be lighter reading material from this point on.) xx