Tag Archives: memoir

The Pilot Light

Last night I won $100 on a poker machine. Not a lot of money, but the most I’ve ever won. My friend Sam and I – who I haven’t seen in months – were having a good catch up, giggling and drinking and high-fiving. It was fucking cold in there but we sat at the machine and watched the numbers ticking up. It was exciting, a moment of fun in an otherwise shitty day. Shitty month, shitty year. After my two recent miscarriages, not a lot makes sense in my world anymore. It’s harder to have fun, to laugh, to escape painful feelings. Not a lot makes me smile.

But last night was fun. Fun for fun’s sake. Turns out fun is not a guaranteed thing. Just like with my miscarriages, the bottom can fall out at any moment.

We couldn’t work out how to use the stupid card thing. The money is put on a card which is then cashed out. After much fumbling about, we finally worked it out and took it to a cash-out machine. Sam put the card in the wrong slot. It really was a stupid card thing. Luckily there was a helpful lady hovering who could tell us how to work it.

“Just take it to the cashier,” she said after the card was spat out again. We left and took it to another cash-out machine. The balance was zero.

Uh oh.

We took it to the cashier and the balance on the card was still zero. I knew immediately that that helpful woman with the weird eyes had robbed us. Thinking back, I should have known the machine would spit out a ticket not cash.

We were a little tipsy. We went back to the poker machine and tracked down service. I went to get more drinks. I felt like I was gone a minute but when I got back my friends were looking for me. Sam had bad news – the staff could give us nothing but would look into it. We’d lost our winnings and there was nothing to show for it.

It struck me then that this is how it feels to miscarry. I won, but I didn’t. The evidence was all there but somehow I lost the prize. Didn’t just lose it – I was robbed of it. Right from under my nose. I was taken from the highest high to a crashing low, life once again cutting me off at the knees.

When I fell pregnant in January, I took it for granted that my baby was guaranteed. That come September I would become a mother for the second time. The pee sticks told me, the blood test told me, my body told me. I was pregnant, carrying a precious new life. How easily that spark was snuffed out. My child’s life was nothing more than a flickering pilot light, a fragile withering thing that could be taken out by the slightest breeze. Where did that breeze come from? Why couldn’t I protect it? How did I lose it? These are questions that will never have answers.

I might get my winnings. The staff might really “look into it” and resolve it. Or they might not, and my loss may never be recovered. And I will have to learn to live with that.

The parallels continue on. Life will always contain loss and injustice and theft and unfairness. There is no guarantee of fair treatment, or that our lives will be free of pain and suffering. This was never promised to us but it kind of feels like the birthright of being human. So all we can do is fight, and when we’ve fought hard enough and strong enough, know when to let go.

Life Stories

The bit where life gets in the way…

I wanted this blog to solely be about my writing journey. But writing is inextricably intertwined with life – you can’t have one without the other. Life inspires writing and is inspired by it. And the only way to write well is to live fully and wholeheartedly.

You might get your heart broken along the way, but there’s no better way to express pain than to write your way out of it.

I’ve been a long time fan of memoir and, at one point, I longed to write my own. My decision to study psychology straight out of school came from my deep-seated desire to know my own mind and to work out why things had happened to me and what effect they had left on me. I also felt a strong need to help others, to guide them, to fix them. I felt like I had something to teach or to tell, I just didn’t know how to go about it. So the first logical step was to become a psychologist.

My journey to not becoming a psychologist is a story in itself, suffice to say, even though life had thrown a lot at me, there was still so much more to face. But something that has never left me is the desire to know and to tell. I was a writer first, scribbling from the age of 8, starting a diary at 9, and falling in love with writing in my teen years. At different points over the years it has been my saviour, my escape, my downfall and my obsession.

I still keep a diary, writing several entries a month. I kept writing when my son was a newborn and I was a sleep-deprived new mother, finding the compulsion to record my strange new life too strong to ignore. It was a need I put above sleep and sanity because I felt it was necessary for my soul. Now when I write it is less about recording my days and more about the nuances in emotion I face on a daily basis, the weekly rollercoaster ride of moods, my struggle for balance in my life. I write also to purge myself of toxins that keep me from working on my fiction projects (which I can’t help but see as the real work) – the surface mind crap as well as the unexpected life events that occasionally spin up to throw me into turmoil.

Life stories are important. Writing them can be vital. It is the method by which we share what we have learnt with people who may be stumbling in the dark. It is the way we honour our experiences and the people who have graced our lives. We grow when we can put our stories down into a physical form – when we are able to tell the world “This is what happened to me”. Sharing life stories is cathartic and empowering. It’s also scary as hell and is apt to leave you feeling vulnerable, but ultimately it builds strength.

So many of my life stories have remained hidden, even from the people closest to me. By writing them, I shine a light into their dark corners, and by sharing them, I make them glitter like stars.

Here is where I will begin to publish my Life Stories. You can find them on the tab at the top of the page.